CHINA - In the most dramatic turn of events yet in the trial of Bo Xilai, the disgraced Chinese leader on Saturday confronted the man whose botched defection to a United States consulate led to his downfall.
In court, the former Chongqing party boss grilled Wang Lijun, his former police chief and right-hand man, firing 21 questions at him about the latter's recollection of events leading to China's biggest political scandal in decades.
Wang, 54, revealed that their relations soured after he told Bo on Jan 28 last year that Bo's wife Gu Kailai was a suspect in the death of British businessman Neil Heywood on Nov 15, 2011.
A day later, Bo summoned him for a meeting where he swore "very vulgarly" before punching Wang in his left ear.
"I found the edge of my mouth bleeding and liquid dripping out of my ear. I told him very calmly that he needed to face the matter," Wang recounted.
But, he said, Bo picked up his glass of water and smashed it on the floor, saying he "could not accept it".
He wanted to "inflict more violence" but was blocked by other officials present, Wang said. That bust-up, and pressure exerted on his subordinates into saying that Gu was not responsible for Mr Heywood's death, worried Wang.
"It was very dangerous at that time. I was the victim of violence, and my colleagues and those handling the case had disappeared," said Wang, explaining why he fled to the US consulate in Chengdu city.