China court to issue Bo Xilai appeal decision Friday

China court to issue Bo Xilai appeal decision Friday
Former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai is sentenced to life in prison at a court in Jinan, Shandong province.

BEIJING - A Chinese court will rule Friday on the appeal of the once-powerful politician Bo Xilai, it announced on Monday, another step towards closing a scandal that rocked the ruling party.

Bo was sentenced to life in prison in September by the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province.

The Shandong high court said on its website it will "issue a decision regarding the bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power case of the appellant Bo Xilai".

Appeals in such high-profile cases are almost unheard of in Chinese courts, which are tightly controlled by the Communist party. Analysts have said the appeal is unlikely to succeed.

The murder and corruption scandal that erupted in early 2012 surrounding Bo - once one of China's top 25 politicians - shook the ruling party, which prizes consensus and stability.

The affair saw Bo's wife Gu Kalai jailed last year for murdering a British associate. Bo's top aide Wang Lijun - who fled to a US consulate, reportedly seeking asylum - was also imprisoned for covering up her involvement in the death, among other offences.

Bo's sensational five-day trial a month earlier offered a rare peek into the family life and dealings of a top official, exposing bribes, murder and illicit love at the highest levels of power.

It was also peppered with colourful references to stashes of cash in a family safe, and gifts of rare and mysterious African meats.

Bo, who ran the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing until his fall, had won popularity as an open and charismatic figure - unusual among Chinese politicians.

But he also generated controversy with his open ambition and support for a Maoist revival, urging people to sing "red songs".

He was unusually outspoken as a defendant in a Chinese court, and among many spirited arguments at his trial he dismissed his wife as insane and Wang as being in love with her.

He denied the charges and submitted an appeal to the Shandong high court after the verdict and sentence.

Earlier high-profile corruption cases have ended after the initial conviction, including those of both Gu and Wang, who admitted the charges against them.

The former mayor of China's commercial capital Shanghai, Chen Liangyu, opted not to appeal after being sentenced in 2008 to 18 years in prison.

Ex-Beijing mayor Chen Xitong appealed against a 16-year jail sentence but it was rejected.

A year and a half passed between Bo's downfall and his trial, with reports that party leaders were split over how to handle the affair.

Until his appearance in court in August, he had not been seen in public since a month after the scandal exploded.

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