Fallen Chinese political star Bo Xilai goes on trial
Former Chinese political star Bo Xilai (C) is shown on trial in the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, east China's Shandong province, August 22, 2013. Bo went on trial for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, in the country's highest-profile prosecution for decades.
Bo was accused of abusing his political powers to cover up his wife's murder of a British businessman in 2011, according to the Twitter-like weibo account of the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan.
A picture of Bo posted on the account showed him standing in the dock wearing an open-necked white shirt and looking pensive, his hands crossed in front of him.
His hair was short, and tinged with grey at the temples, and he was flanked by two policemen, both taller than him.
Bo took advantage of his position as party secretary of the southwestern megacity of Chongqing to carry out "a series of acts of abuse of power", the court heard.
Bo also "received 21.8 million yuan" ($3.6 million) in bribes while mayor of the northeastern port city of Dalian, governor of Liaoning province and national minister of commerce, prosecutors said, adding that Bo had also embezzled another five million yuan of public funds.
Bribes were received through Bo's wife Gu Kailai and his son Bo Guagua, they said.
The prosecution called for Bo to be punished according to a law that prescribes a minimum of 10 years in jail for taking bribes of more than 100,000 yuan.
Bo was once one of the 25 members of the Communist Party's Politburo, and the party is touting the trial as proof of its intent to crack down on corruption.
But details about the scandal, which erupted in the build-up to a once-in-a-decade leadership handover that saw Xi Jinping elevated as party chief, have also exposed the high-flying lifestyles and murky dealings of China's political elite.
It also revealed factional divisions within the party, and the proceedings remain sensitive.
Scores of blue-uniformed police early Thursday blocked roads around the front and side entrances of the court, in the eastern province of Shandong, far from Bo's power bases.
Hundreds of passersby stopped to watch, some capturing the scene on their smartphones, as cars, buses and ambulances occasionally drove into the court.
One Bo supporter surnamed He, who worked part of the year in Chongqing, said he flew in the night before and had met many others from the city.
The 51-year-old said he had not told his family he was coming to the trial, reflecting the sensitivity of the situation.
Yet he openly praised the fallen leader in front of a row of police blocking the street.
"I bow to you," he called out several times while snapping photos as a convoy of buses drove past.
"If this were a matter of justice, would they be so nervous?" he said, referring to the massive police presence.
He ranked Bo alongside respected Chinese leaders Deng Xiaoping and Zhu Rongji, saying "his governance was too great" and "the whole world should learn from him".
"It doesn't matter how he is sentenced, it matters how history is written," he added.
The galleries were packed, the court said, with five relatives of the accused present, two assistants, 19 journalists and 84 members of the public. But no foreign media organisations were granted entry.
Bo's dramatic downfall began in November 2011 when British businessman Neil Heywood was found dead in a hilltop hotel room.
Gu was last year given a suspended death sentence -- normally commuted to life imprisonment -- for Heywood's murder. Bo's police chief Wang Lijun, whose flight to a US consulate blew the scandal open, got 15 years in jail for his role in covering up the killing, defection and other crimes.
Bo's own long-awaited trial is expected to proceed swiftly, with a guilty verdict all but certain and the sentence believed to have been decided beforehand.
Analysts say Bo's revival of the trappings of Mao-era China -- including mass concerts singing "red" songs -- while party chief in Chongqing alarmed sections of China's top leadership, who saw the campaigns as a brash return to a bygone era of strongman rule.
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