Bo Xilai trial: Bo's possible fate

A conviction is almost guaranteed for former Politburo member Bo Xilai. The punishment is harder to predict and depends on several factors. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
A conviction is almost guaranteed for former Politburo member Bo Xilai. The punishment is harder to predict and depends on several factors. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

A conviction is almost guaranteed for former Politburo member Bo Xilai. The punishment is harder to predict and depends on several factors. Here's a look at the possible outcomes:

Death penalty

Turning Bo into a death-row inmate is unlikely as others convicted of more serious offences have escaped capital punishment.

Bo is accused of covering up his wife Gu Kailai's murderous act and of taking bribes and embezzling about 26.7 million yuan (S$5.5 million) in all.

Gu received a suspended death sentence with a two-year reprieve - the same punishment meted out to former railways minister Liu Zhijun, who took bribes totalling 64.6 million yuan.

A death sentence could risk upsetting Bo's supporters in the leftist faction and also in Chongqing and Dalian, said Singapore-based analyst Bo Zhiyue.

Suspended death sentence

If the death penalty is ruled out, the maximum sentence Bo could get is a suspended death sentence with a two-year reprieve - if he is uncooperative.

"Being uncooperative means Bo has not agreed to confess to all the charges in court, to return the money, to thank the party for upholding the rule of law and for the chance to clean up its reputation," said Dr Bo, who is not related to the ex-politician.

Such sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment after two years in China. But the prisoner faces execution if he commits an offence during this period.

Life imprisonment, or 15-20 years' jail

Life sentence is a possibility though if Bo agrees to cooperate, he could even get a 15 to 20 years jail term.

But anything short of a life sentence might be deemed as a lenient punishment for Bo and could expose the Communist Party to criticism that it is not serious about fighting corruption.