* Court finds Bo guilty on all charges
* Bo handed life jail sentence
* Court orders all Bo's personal assets be seized
* Bo has 10 days from Monday in which to appeal
By Megha Rajagopalan
JINAN, China, Sept 22 A Chinese court sentenced
ousted senior politician Bo Xilai to life in jail on Sunday
after finding him guilty of corruption and abuse of power, a
tough term that gives him little chance of staging a political
Bo was a rising star in China's leadership circles and
cultivated a loyal following through his charisma and populist,
quasi-Maoist policies, especially among those left out in the
cold by China's anything-for-growth economic policies.
But his career was stopped short last year by a murder
scandal in which his wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of poisoning
a British businessman, Neil Heywood, who had been a family
While Bo has the right to appeal within 10 days from Monday,
the sentence effectively puts an end to his political ambitions
and the glamorous lifestyle he enjoyed as a member of China's
The court in the eastern city of Jinan, where Bo was tried,
ordered that all his personal assets be seized, and deprived him
of his political rights for life, according to a transcript
released by the court's official microblog.
"Bo Xilai was a servant of the state, he abused his power,
causing huge damage to the country and its people ... The
circumstances were especially serious," the court said in its
State media said he would probably appeal, in which case the
supreme court in Shandong province, where Jinan is located,
would have to hear the case within two months. As all courts are
party controlled, they are unlikely to overturn the verdict.
While Bo could have been given the death penalty, many
observers had felt this was unlikely as the party would not have
wanted to make a martyr of him.
Bo did himself few favours with his feisty defence at his
five-day trial, said Zhang Ming, a professor at Renmin
University in Beijing. "My predication was for shorter," he
said. "His denial of guilt led to a longer sentence."
The court showed a picture of a handcuffed Bo, with clenched
fists in an apparent show of defiance, flanked by two towering
policemen who held him by his shoulders and forearms. Two more
policemen stood by.
Heavy security and roadblocks around the courthouse kept
bystanders back, with no signs of any Bo sympathisers present,
unlike at the beginning of his trial when a handful showed up to
express support for him.
At the end of Bo's trial last month, prosecutors demanded a
heavy sentence, saying his "whimsical" challenge to charges flew
in the face of the evidence. The court rejected Bo's defence
almost entirely, aside from one small section of the bribery
charge related to travel expenses for Bo's wife and their son,
Bo Guagua, paid for by businessman Xu Ming, for which it said
the prosecution's case was flawed.
It also rejected Bo's claims of coming "under psychological
pressure" when he said he initially admitted to Communist Party
anti-corruption investigators that he had received bribes.
"The pressure Bo Xilai said he came under does not count as
being illegal under the rules about forced confession," it said.
Gu Yushu, a lawyer appointed by Bo's sister, Bo Jieying, but
ultimately denied permission to represent him in court, said he
did not believe the evidence submitted justified the sentence.
"The facts were vague and unclear," he told Reuters.
One of Bo's most high-profile supporters was, however,
unbowed by the sentence.
"Knowing the kind of person he is, he will fight to the
end," said Sima Nan, a well-known defender of Bo's policies who
makes a living appearing on television entertainment shows.
"This is like a soap opera and we're only half-way through."
The trial gripped China, especially details of the
extravagant life of the Bo family, including expensive foreign
trips, exotic food and the purchase of a villa on the French
The court ordered that the villa, bought for the family by
businessman Xu, be confiscated, though it was not immediately
clear if that meant the Chinese government would have to present
its case for the seizure to a French court.
Bo, 64, who was Communist Party chief of the southwestern
metropolis of Chongqing, mounted an unexpectedly fiery defence
during his trial, denouncing testimony against him by his wife
as the ravings of a mad woman hoping to have her own sentence
But the court said Gu was clear-minded in her evidence and
there was no basis to say she was hoping for her sentence to be
Bo repeatedly said he was not guilty of any of the charges,
though he admitted making some bad decisions and shaming his
country by his handling of former Chongqing police chief, Wang
Lijun, who first told Bo that Gu had probably murdered Heywood.
Wang fled to the U.S. consulate in the nearby city of
Chengdu in February last year after confronting Bo with evidence
that Gu was involved in the murder. Wang was also jailed last
year for covering up the crime.
The state prosecutor had said Bo should not be shown
leniency as he had recanted admissions of guilt ahead of his
trial. Senior party figures feared Bo could stage a political
comeback one day if he was not given a harsh sentence, sources
told Reuters after the trial.
A light sentence could have undermined President Xi
Jinping's pledge to go after corrupt political heavyweights as
harshly as those lower down the pecking order.
Bo may still end up being released early, said Shang Baojun,
a prominent human rights lawyer. "Release on bail and medical
parole are both common for government officials," Shang said.