China Bo trial examines police chief's evidence

JINAN - Evidence from fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai's former police chief was being examined on Sunday, the fourth day of a corruption trial which has gripped the nation, a court said.

Wang Lijun, Bo's police chief and right-hand man in Chongqing, the megacity he headed, was the key figure in court on Saturday, testifying against his former boss over allegations of abuse of power.

He provided explosive details about the lurid scandal triggered by the death of British businessman Neil Heywood, including telling the court that Bo punched him when he told the politician his wife Gu Kailai was responsible.

"Both the prosecution and defence are examining witness testimony by Wang Lijun," the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, eastern China, said in a transcript posted on its account on Sina Weibo, a Twitter equivalent.

It was not clear whether Wang was back in court to continue testifying in person.

Bo has admitted mistakes relating to the investigation into Heywood's killing and "some responsibility" for embezzled state funds that were transferred to one of Gu's bank accounts. But he denies charges of abuse of power, bribery and embezzlement.

The scandal erupted in advance of a generational shift of power atop the factionalised Communist Party, and Bo's feisty performance during his trial has astonished a public unfamiliar with the open airing of top-level intrigue.

The hearings are in stark contrast to previous Chinese political trials in which most defendants have humbly confessed their crimes in opaque court proceedings.

Revelations of private jet flights, luxury villas and rare animal meats have held Chinese Internet users spellbound, while Bo has showed open disdain for prosecution witnesses, including Gu, whom he derided as "insane".

He confessed to having had extramarital affairs and said Gu moved to Britain because she was angry with him, the court transcripts showed.

The trial was widely expected to last only two days but moved into a fourth day Sunday, although analysts still believe a guilty verdict and long prison sentence for Bo were agreed beforehand.

Nothing has been said publicly of Bo's links with other top communist leaders - even though he was once tipped to join the highest echelons of power.