China puts politician husband of British man’s murderer on trial

Deposed politician Bo Xilai will go on trial on charges of corruption and abuse of power within weeks, wrapping up a festering scandal that China’s new leaders want disposed of.

Bo, 64, was a rising political star who ran the city of Chongqing until he fell from power last year in a scandal that saw his wife convicted of killing British businessman Neil Heywood. He has been charged with bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power and will stand trial in the city of Jinan.

For months, Bo has been the unfinished business of China’s political transition, with questions over his fate casting a shadow over the Communist Party’s new leaders under Xi Jinping. Bo was believed to be backed by influential party members and was popular with residents of the city he ran, raising questions about whether the party could close ranks in deciding what to do with him.

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By indicting Bo now, China’s Communist Party leaders have also given themselves enough time to reach a verdict in his case before a major meeting late this year that is expected to set the country’s economic course.

In China, trials of such high-level officials accused of corruption are less about legal process than they are about decisions hammered out by politicians and the party’s graft investigators and announced by a court. There is usually little dispute aired during proceedings, and most of it is kept out of the public eye.

News of his prosecution signals that the Communist Party leadership has reached a general agreement about how to handle Bo.