China to try ex-Police chief
on 14/09/2012 10:18:02
An official at the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court said former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun's case would be heard in an open trial.
Wang has been charged with defection, bribe-taking, "bending the law for selfish ends" and abuse of power. His charges have not mentioned Bo Xilai, his one-time boss, who was among China's top leaders before falling from power this year.
Wang set off the Bo scandal in February by fleeing to an American consulate where he raised concerns about the death of a British businessman linked to Bo.
Wang fled to the US consulate in the city of Chengdu after being demoted by Bo, the city's powerful Communist Party boss.
It was there that Wang expressed to the Americans his concerns about the death of Neil Heywood in Chongqing last year. Mr Heywood was a close business associate of the Bo family.
That prompted the British embassy to request a new investigation, which uncovered that Mr Heywood had been murdered. The case resulted in Bo's dismissal in March and the conviction last month of Bo's wife Gu Kailai for poisoning Mr Heywood, apparently over a feud about money.
Gu was given a suspended death sentence and three leading Chongqing police officers and a Bo family aide were also sentenced as accomplices in the murder and subsequent cover-up.
Bo remains under investigation by the ruling party's disciplinary branch for unspecified grave violations of discipline.
Shenyang-based lawyer Wang Yuncai, reportedly a close friend of Wang Lijun, had previously said she had been approved by the court to serve as his defence lawyer. Reached by phone today, she would only say she was in a meeting before hanging up.
In announcing Wang's indictment last week, the official Xinhua News Agency said he knew that Gu was under serious suspicion of murdering Mr Heywood, but "consciously neglected his duty and bent the law for personal gain" so Gu would not be held responsible.
It also said Wang "left his post without authorisation and defected to the United States Consulate General in Chengdu". It is not known if he made a direct request for asylum, something US diplomats say they would not have been able to grant.
Wang had been Bo's right-hand man in Chongqing, spearheading a controversial crackdown on organised crime that critics say featured torture and other violations of procedure, as well as illegal confiscation of assets and the targeting of political opponents.