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Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai 'to go on trial on Thursday'

Bo Xilai, the former Chinese politician who fell into disgrace over alleged abuse of power, is to go on trial on Thursday, state media say. His downfall caused the biggest political scandal in China for decades.

The state-run Xinhua news agency said Bo Xilai would face charges of bribery, corruption and abuse of power at his trial, due to start on Thursday in the eastern city of Jinan.

Bo, the former Communist Party secretary of the city of Chongqing, was dismissed last year amid allegations that his wife, Gu Kailai, was involved in the death of a British businessman in 2011 and that he had attempted to hinder police in their investigation. Gu has since been jailed for murder.

Bo was indicted last month.

The charges of abuse of power relate to this incident, while the corruption charges stem from the time that he ran the smaller city of Dalian in the 1990s, according to the current affairs magazine Caijing.

However, other observers say that given his rank and the length of his political career, more recent charges on this count are also likely.

Until his fall from power, the 64-year-old Bo was a member of the ruling Communist Party's 25-member Politburo. He is only the third politician of that rank to be tried on graft charges in recent decades.

The trial comes amid a drive by new President Xi Jinping to crack down on official corruption, which he says threatens the party's very survival.

Analysts say a conviction is almost certain, as China's judicial system is controlled by the Communist Party.

tj/pfd (AFP, dpa, Reuters)