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Chinese court extends corruption trial of Bo Xilai

A Chinese court has extended the trial of Bo Xilai into a third day. Prosecutors began Friday's proceedings with video testimony aimed at substantiating embezzlement allegations against the former rising-star politician.

The court in Jinan will hear more evidence on Saturday in Bo's trial for corruption and abuse of power.

Friday - the second and, originally scheduled, last day of the trial - brought some interesting moments, especially when the court played a video testimony by Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, in which she discussed financial and other help to the family by the businessman Xu Ming.

"She has changed, she is mad now, and always lies," Bo said after prosecutors aired the video testimony, adding that his wife had compared herself to Jing Ke, who more than 2,000 years ago tried and failed to kill the man who would become the first emperor of a unified China, and calling that claim alone "sufficient to prove that she was mentally disordered."

"The personnel handling the case gave her huge pressure and asked her to implicate me, when she has psychological problems," Bo added.

He also asked for Gu to testify in person, but the chief judge said she had already refused to do so and the court could not compel her.

'Nonesense'

Gu received a suspended death sentence last September for poisoning Neil Heywood, who she said had demanded money and threatened her son, according to state media, the only news services allowed into the courtroom to report on the trial. Bo, 64, stands accused of abuse of power in connection to the British businessman's murder, as well as accepting some $3.5 million (2.6 million euros) in bribes from Xu Ming and another businessman when he served as mayor in the northeastern city of Dalian.

"Kailai used to tell me that when she killed Neil Heywood, she was heroic," Bo said.

Bo also rejected as "nonsense" prosecutors' evidence from his former police chief Wang Lijun, sentenced last September to 15 years in prison for corruption, abuse of power and other offenses for his role in attempting to cover up the murder.

Corruption

On Friday, the Jinan court also heard the charge that Bo embezzled some 5 million yuan from public funds. On Thursday, Bo had said that he had made a confession to corruption charges under pressure from the Communist Party's disciplinary commission. Bo had presented an unexpectedly spirited defense as the trial began on Thursday, comparing one witness, the businessman Tang Xiaolin, to a "mad dog" who appeared to have "sold his soul."

In a sign that the court will likely find Bo guilty despite his rejecting the charges, a commentary by People's Daily, the Communist Party's official newspaper, called evidence presented by the prosecution on Thursday "detailed, reliable ... and conclusive." The commentary added the court's publishing of transcripts of proceedings online "reflects legal openness and transparency, and satisfies the public's right to know."

Bo could face the death sentence, likely suspended, which effectively would mean life imprisonment, or a 20-year term. State media expect a verdict in early September.

mkg/dr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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