GUIYANG, China (Reuters) - The trial of disgraced senior Chinese leader Bo Xilai, the central figure in the country’s biggest political scandal in decades, will not be held on Monday as some media had reported, a court official in the southern Chinese city of Guiyang said.
“To date, the People’s Intermediate Court of Guiyang has received no information whatsoever about the trial of Bo Xilai taking place in Guiyang,” said Jiang Hao, a court official in the city, the capital of Guizhou province.
“If the next step is to hold the Bo Xilai trial in Guiyang’s court, then, as according to rules, we will inform our media friends promptly,” Jiang told reporters at the court.
A report last week by Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao newspaper said Bo, the charismatic former Communist Party chief of the south-western city of Chongqing, would be tried in Guiyang from Monday. The Beijing-backed newspaper has accurately reported issues close to the Chinese leadership in the past.
Asked if prosecutors had sent the case to the court, Jiang said: “According to information I have received, they have not.”
It is still not clear where Bo’s trial will take place. He has not been formally charged although he was expelled from the Communist Party in September and made the subject of a list of sordid allegations: bending the law to hush up a murder, taking huge bribes, and engaging in “improper sexual relations with multiple women”.
Once a contender for China’s top leadership, Bo, 63, was ousted from his post as Chongqing party chief last year following the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, for which his wife Gu Kailai has been convicted.
Bo was widely tipped to be promoted to the party’s elite inner core before his career unravelled. The downfall came after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled briefly to a U.S. consulate in February 2012 and alleged that Gu had poisoned Heywood. Wang and Gu are both serving prison sentences over the scandal.
The Bo issue is the most sensational case of domestic political turmoil in China since the fall of the “Gang of Four” after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, and is being closely watched for signs of openness in China’s new leadership and how much of the party’s inner workings they will allow to be revealed.
The trial will likely not be held until after China’s national parliament holds its annual session in March, according to a report on Monday on the website of the Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the Communist Party’s official People’s Daily.
“The information in terms of the date and location for the trial will certainly be made public in advance, and it’s unnecessary to make speculations”, the paper quoted a source close to China’s top judicial body as saying.
The paper did not further identify the source.
Reporting by John Ruwitch in Guiyang and Beijing newsroom; Writing by Terril Yue Jones; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan