JINAN- He may have been stripped of all his titles, but former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai showed he had lost none of his famed flamboyance when he put up a feisty performance at the start of China's most politically sensitive trial in decades.
Dressed in a white shirt and dark trousers instead of the impeccably tailored suits of the past, the 64-year-old "princeling" did not plead guilty to the charges, as had been expected.
Instead, Bo (left in photo) denied taking bribes and launched into cutting rebuttals of the prosecution's case. He even dismissed several key witnesses as "a mad dog", "ridiculous" and "ugly".
The one-time political star, who had not been seen in public since last March, is being tried in a Jinan court on charges of abuse of power, and of embezzling and accepting bribes totalling nearly 27 million yuan (S$5.6 million).
He denied taking 20.6 million yuan from Dalian Shide's former chairman Xu Ming or 1.1 million yuan from Dalian executive Tang Xiaolin. He called Tang "a mad dog" for lying in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.
Bo claimed that he did not know of the sums or gifts, such as a mansion in France or an Africa holiday that Xu had given his wife Gu Kailai or son Guagua.
He also described as "laughable" written testimony from Gu, who is serving a suspended death sentence for murder.
When Xu took the stand, Bo asked: "You say Gu Kailai and Bo Guagua needed a few million a year overseas. Have you ever told me?" Xu replied no.
This was based on transcripts posted on the Jinan court's Weibo account, the first time online updates were given for a key trial.
Netizens lapped up the posts and pored over everything, from Bo's white shirt to how the guards must have been chosen to tower over the already-tall Bo.