Chinese politician mounts feisty defence
Aug 22, 2013 / 7:42 am
Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai denied taking $3.5 million in bribes from businessmen and cross-examined one of them with a lawyer's precision Thursday, launching an unexpectedly spirited defence at a trial aimed at capping China's biggest scandal in decades. It appeared to be a last-ditch effort by the former political star to repair the reputation he had so carefully cultivated of being a man of the people.
Prosecutors ended months of suspense about the details of his charges, rolling out accusations that featured a villa in France, a hot-air balloon project and a football club, giving a glimpse of how colorful corruption can look in China.
Bo's verbal sparring displayed the media-savvy politician's keen sense of how to portray himself well in tough situations. He thanked the judge for letting him speak, asserted that he was pressured into making a confession and was selectively contrite.
"I'm not a perfect man, and not a strong-willed person, I'm willing to take responsibility for that," Bo said. "But as to the basic facts of whether I am guilty or innocent, I must say my piece."
Once the powerful party boss in the megacity of Chongqing, the charismatic Bo fell into disgrace early last year following revelations that his wife had killed a British businessman, and that he had allegedly attempted to cover it up. Thursday marked the first time he was seen in public in 18 months, since shortly after the scandal emerged.
In photos and state TV footage from the court, Bo was shown standing in the dock wearing a white long-sleeved dress shirt and dark slacks. His hair was cut short and grey, and he later sat somewhat slumped in a chair with little expression on his face.
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