A top Chinese court on Friday upheld the life sentence of Bo Xilai, a former Politburo member and head of the Communist Party in Chongqing, who was found guilty of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, according to media reports.
Bo was convicted of the charges in September after losing his position in 2012 as head of the party in the southwestern city of Chongqing, after falling from grace in a scandal that resulted in his wife, Gu Kailai, being convicted of the murder of a British businessman. Bo, one of the senior-most party officials in the country, was accused of taking $3.5 million in bribes from business associates, funneling off government funds for private purposes, and abusing his position in his wife's murder case.
"The facts of the first instance verdict are clear, the evidence is reliable, sufficient and the sentence is appropriate," the Shandong Provincial Higher People's Court said in its ruling, the BBC reported, citing the court’s website.
The court’s decision was widely expected as the Communist Party, led by President Xi Jinping, sought to make an example of Bo and his wife in one of the country’s most high-profile corruption cases. And, Xi is expected to put together an anti-corruption plan with economic development at its center, at a meeting of party leaders in November, the Associated Press reported.
"Xi Jinping is anxious to put together at least a semblance of unity among the different factions," Willy Lam, an expert on Communist Party politics at Chinese University in Hong Kong, told AP. "He wants to shift the attention of the public and the Western media from something negative to something more positive."
While the Shandong high court’s decision formally ends the long-drawn trial, which attracted worldwide attention, key questions such as assigning responsibility to the abuses seen during Bo’s administration of Chongqing, according to AP.
"Bo Xilai controlled the police, prosecutors and courts in Chongqing and he cannot avoid responsibility for the wrongful convictions that took place there," Li Zhuang, a lawyer, told AP. "As long as there is no redress, it's difficult to put a full-stop on Bo's case."