Despite putting up a stout defence, Ex-Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a Chinese court that convicted him on Sunday morning of all three charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.
But Bo, 64, is reportedly likely to appeal against the court's decision.
Observers see Sunday’s verdict as a move aimed at clearing the way for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to focus on preparations for the third plenum in November, where President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang will unveil their policy directions for their 10-year term till 2022.
A conviction for Bo was widely expected given the CCP’s control over the courts. But ahead of today’s sentencing, analysts were split on the punishment for the ex-Politburo member was. Some predicted that Bo's vehement denial during a five-day trial in eastern Jinan city late last month could have earned him a harsher sentence, such as life imprisonment.
The maximum punishment for his crimes is the death penalty.
Once tipped to enter the apex Politburo Standing Committee, Bo's political career ended when he was sacked from his Chongqing post in March last year - a month after his ex-police chief Wang Lijun fled to an American consulate and allegedly ratted about Bo's wife Gu Kailai's murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in 2011.
Bo was convicted of abusing his power in covering up his wife's crime by illegally sacking Wang when the latter told him about the murder. Bo was also convicted of taking bribes and embezzling funds totalling 27 million yuan (S$5.5 million), dating back to his time as mayor of northeastern Dalian city in the 1990s.
Gu, 54, received a suspended death sentence last August while Wang, 54, was sentenced a month later to 15 years jail for covering up the crime and bribery.