Bo Xilai faces Chinese trial verdict

Bo Xilai faces Chinese trial verdict

CHINA - Fallen Chinese political star Bo Xilai will learn his fate on Sunday when a court delivers its verdict after a sensational scandal that culminated in the highest-profile trial in decades.

Bo, one of China's top 25 politicians before his dramatic downfall, is widely expected to be found guilty of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power but there is speculation over what punishment he will receive.

The catalyst for Bo's fall came when his top aide in Chongqing fled to a US consulate with evidence the politician's wife had murdered a British associate in February 2012.

With factions in the upper echelons of the Communist Party reportedly split over how to handle him, a year and a half passed before he went to trial, becoming the most high-profile official to do so in decades.

In last month's gripping five-day hearing he mounted a fierce defence against claims that he corruptly obtained 26.8 million yuan (S$5.4 million) and abused his political position to cover up the killing committed by his wife.

The bribery charges make the 64-year-old eligible for the death penalty, but several analysts told AFP they expect him to receive a prison sentence of around 18 years, decided as a result of backroom political bargaining.

Security has been stepped up outside the court, with dozens of police surrounding the building in Jinan, capital of eastern China's Shandong province.

Though edited transcripts from the trial were posted online, China's government has tightly controlled information about Bo's case, and police erected barriers to stop pedestrians from entering areas around the court on Saturday.

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