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Asia

Former police chief and Communist Party await verdict

The man who revealed China's largest political scandal in decades, former police chief Wang Lijun's two-day trial has come to a close, with party cadres hoping the conspiracy will be swept under the rug with the verdict.

Chinese TV showed Wang Lijun, the former powerful police chief of China's largest city, Chongqing, sitting in court. In addition to corruption, prosecution charged the 52-year-old with deliberately covering up the murder of British national Neil Heywood in order to protect Gu Kailai, wife of his powerful boss, Bo Xilai.

Former police chief Wang Lijun speaks during a court hearing in Chengdu Photo: REUTERS/CCTV via Reuters TV

Wang Lijun's trial lasted two days

Wang lifted the lid on the murder when he escaped to the US consulate in Chengdu in February. The information provided by Wang there about the murder of the British businessman unraveled the largest political scandal China has seen in decades. Bo Xilai, who up to that point had been a prime candidate for the party's inner circle, was fired soon after that.

Bad for business

The scandal threatened to overshadow the change of power due to take place at the 18 th party congress, which is planned for October of this year. The fact that the trial has ended just weeks before the party congress underlines the political gravity of the case, according to Wu Qiang, a political scientist at Tsinghua University.

"It is difficult to imagine that the party congress would have been successfully held had the issue involving Wang Lijun not been solved," Wu told DW. "There had to be a political full stop first and a legal end. It is a kind of political trade-off so that Bo Xilai nor other top politicians go down with the case."

It is not known when Wang Lijun's verdict will be handed down. It is also unclear what Bo Xilai knew of the conspiracy. What will happen to him is a further unknown.

A combination of two photographs shows British businessman Neil Heywood (L) and Gu Kailai, Photo: REUTERS/Stringer/Files

Gu Kailai (r) was found guilty of murdering Neil Heywood (l)

It is the party, and not the public prosecutor, which is investigating Bo's involvement. But within the party he still has supporters, even after being removed from all offices.

Some observers believe that's why he might not even be put to trial. His wife received a suspended death sentence. Wang Lijun could also be facing a harsh sentence. Bo, on the other hand, may only be thrown out of the party. As the cadres see it, that would take care of the case. And questions about a system that allows so much abuse of power and corruption would be off the stove.

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