China strips Bo Xilai of parliamentary seat | News | DW | 26.10.2012
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China strips Bo Xilai of parliamentary seat

The Chinese parliament has stripped former high-ranking Communist party official Bo Xilai of his seat. Bo may now face prosecution on charges of corruption and obstruction of justice.

The National People's Congress on Thursday expelled former senior politician Bo Xilai from its ranks, stripping him of his legal immunity and possibly paving the way for his prosecution on criminal charges.

The 63-year-old Bo had already been sacked from his post as Communist Party chief in the southwestern city of Chongqing in April 2011. And he was thrown out of the party altogether in September of this year. Bo's political downfall stems from accusations that he covered up his wife's involvement in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

His wife, lawyer Gu Kailai, was slapped with a commuted death sentence in August for the murder of Heywood. In September, former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun was sentenced to 15 years in prison for trying to cover up the scandal. The story broke in February when Lijun sought refuge in the US consulate and revealed details about Heywood's murder.

Gu had confessed to Heywood's murder, saying she poisoned him in November 2011 over a business dispute and threats he had made against her son.

Fallen star within party

Before his fall from power, Bo was considered a rising star within China's political establishment and a possible contender for a spot in the party's leadership. His so-called "Chongqing Model," which targeted organized crime and supported egalitarian economic policies, attracted a base of support among the Communist Party's disgruntled leftist faction.

Bo's downfall has occurred in the run up to the first change of Communist Party leadership within a decade. Its congress is due to begin on November 8. There has been speculation that Bo's fall was politically orchestrated.

"It's theater," Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the Reuters news agency. "The judiciary grinds into action only when the outcome has been determined. There is no indication we will see a genuine trial because Bo knows too much."

slk/ipj (AP, AFP, Reuters)