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Ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai sentenced to life imprisonment

In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, disgraced politician Bo Xilai, right with white shirt, is flanked by police officers during his trial at the court in eastern China's Shandong province Thursday Aug 22, 2013. -- FILE PH
In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, disgraced politician Bo Xilai, right with white shirt, is flanked by police officers during his trial at the court in eastern China's Shandong province Thursday Aug 22, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO:AP
Policemen hoist a Chinese national flag in front of an entrance of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court where the trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai will be held, in Jinan, Shandong province Sept 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Policemen hoist a Chinese national flag in front of an entrance of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court where the trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai will be held, in Jinan, Shandong province Sept 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Journalists wait outside the Intermediate People's Court before disgraced politician Bo Xilai arrived for his sentencing in Jinan, Shandong Province on Sept 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Journalists wait outside the Intermediate People's Court before disgraced politician Bo Xilai arrived for his sentencing in Jinan, Shandong Province on Sept 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
This screen grab taken from CCTV footage released on Aug 26, 2013 shows ousted Chinese political star Bo Xilai delivering (centre) reading a final statement as he stands on trial in the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, east China's Shandong prov
This screen grab taken from CCTV footage released on Aug 26, 2013 shows ousted Chinese political star Bo Xilai delivering (centre) reading a final statement as he stands on trial in the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, east China's Shandong province. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
The convoy believed to be carrying disgraced politician Bo Xilai arrives at the Intermediate People's Court for his sentencing in Jinan, Shandong Province on Sept 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
The convoy believed to be carrying disgraced politician Bo Xilai arrives at the Intermediate People's Court for his sentencing in Jinan, Shandong Province on Sept 22, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP
Former Politburo member and Chongqing city party leader Bo Xilai, centre, stands on trial at the court in eastern China's Shandong province on Aug 22, 2013. A Chinese court on Sunday found ousted former senior politician Bo Xilai guilty of all the ch
Former Politburo member and Chongqing city party leader Bo Xilai, centre, stands on trial at the court in eastern China's Shandong province on Aug 22, 2013. A Chinese court on Sunday found ousted former senior politician Bo Xilai guilty of all the charges he faced of corruption, accepting bribes and abuse of power. -- FILE PHOTO: AP
A Chinese court on Sunday found ousted former senior politician Bo Xilai guilty of all the charges he faced of corruption, accepting bribes and abuse of power. -- PHOTO: JINAN COURT WEIBO
A Chinese court on Sunday found ousted former senior politician Bo Xilai guilty of all the charges he faced of corruption, accepting bribes and abuse of power. -- PHOTO: JINAN COURT WEIBO

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.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg

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