BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s disgraced former senior politician, Bo Xilai, will go on trial next week, a Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper said on Friday, in what would be the final act of a drama that has shaken the ruling Communist Party.
Bo, once a contender for top leadership in the world’s second-largest economy, was ousted in China’s biggest political scandal in two decades last year following his wife’s murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood.
The mainland China-run Ta Kung Pao newspaper said on its website that Bo’s trial would start on Monday in the southern city of Guiyang and last three days. It cited “well-informed Beijing sources”, but gave no details.
One of Bo’s lawyers, Li Guifang, declined to comment when reached by telephone. A court official in Guiyang who gave his family name as Li said he had not heard anything about the case.
“The case has not yet even been put forward for prosecution,” he added.
A source with direct knowledge of the case told Reuters he “had not heard” that the trial would begin next week.
Bo, a former commerce minister, turned the sprawling, haze-covered southwestern municipality of Chongqing into a showcase for his mix of populist policies and bold spending plans that won support from leftists yearning for a charismatic leader.
Bo, 63, was widely seen as pursuing a powerful spot on the party’s elite inner core before his career unravelled after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate for more than 24 hours in February and alleged that Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered Heywood with poison.
Both Wang and Gu have since been jailed and Bo expelled from the party, accused of corruption and of bending the law to hush up the killing.
Formal charges against Bo have yet to be made public.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie