Wife of China's Bo talks of bribes at trial

China's former Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai (R) and his wife Gu Kailai.

JINAN - The trial of China's ousted political star Bo Xilai on Friday heard evidence from his wife, herself convicted of murder, who described telling her husband of a series of bribes in a video appearance.

The pre-recorded appearance by a nervous-looking Gu Kailai came a day after a fiery Bo said her claims against him were "laughable", enlivening a trial that has gripped a country unfamiliar with the public airing of top-level intrigue.

Gu was once a high-flying lawyer but was convicted last year of murdering the British businessman whose death sparked the corruption scandal that brought Bo down, in advance of a generational shift of power atop China's Communist Party.

She looked thin and pale during the questioning, recorded earlier this month. It was played in court the day after Bo pleaded ignorance to her dealings, and released by the court on Chinese social media, where it had more than one million views in an hour.

Asked if Bo knew about airline tickets and other items provided by business tycoon Xu Ming - who prosecutors said had bribed him to the tune of 20.7 million yuan (S$4.3 million) - Gu at first said "he should have been aware".

Pressed by the questioner, she said: "I told him."

Bo, once one of China's highest-flying politicians, faces charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power which emerged after the lurid scandal triggered by the death of Neil Heywood.

"The court has resumed its investigation of the facts of defendant Bo Xilai's bribery as outlined by the prosecution," the court in Jinan in eastern China said on its verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Bo presented an unexpectedly spirited defence against bribery charges as the trial began on Thursday, comparing one witness, businessman Tang Xiaolin, to a "mad dog" who appeared to have "sold his soul".

But the regular updates that the court provided on Thursday were conspicuous by their absence on Friday morning, despite state-run media proclaiming the proceedings a mark of transparency.

State broadcaster CCTV on Friday released video of one of the trial's most dramatic moments, when Bo cross-examined Xu Ming.

In a colourful exchange - which touched on a football club, a hot air balloon and the purchase of a French villa - Bo argued that Xu had not made him aware of the transactions.

Bo's populist politics won supporters across China but alienated top party leaders who saw his brash approach as a return to a bygone era of strongman rule. Backroom political discussions ahead of the trial have ensured that a guilty verdict from the court is almost certain, with a lengthy prison sentence likely to follow, analysts say.

Police - uniformed and plain-clothed - blocked off roads around the court again on Friday morning, with the only journalists able to gain entry to the proceedings from state-run media.

A convoy thought to be carrying Bo, which included a silver Mercedes prison van, pulled into the main entrance shortly before the court said at 8:40 am that the trial had restarted.