Police and security forces surrounded a courthouse in southwest China on Monday, ahead of the long-awaited trial of the mafia-busting cop at the centre of the Neil Heywood murder scandal.
Wang Lijun, the flamboyant former police chief and vice-mayor of Chongqing, will enter the dock at Chengdu‘s Intermediate People’s Court at 8am on Tuesday and the trial will last one day, local government official Si Beibei told the Telegraph.
According to state media he has been charged with “defection, abuse of power, violating the law for personal favour and accepting bribes.” The trial comes seven months after Mr Wang made a sensational dash for Chengdu’s United States consulate, triggering one of China’s most serious political scandals in decades and a diplomatic crisis spanning three continents.
Mr Wang, 52, was once the right hand man and confident of Chongqing’s powerful party chief Bo Xilai, whose wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence in August for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
But in February Mr Wang fled Chongqing and sought refugee in Chengdu’s US consulate, where he is said to have revealed that Ms Gu had poisoned Mr Heywood. After over 30 hours inside, Mr Wang was forced to surrender to Chinese authorities but he had already set in motion a political scandal that continues to rock Beijing ahead of this year’s crucial once-in-a-decade leadership transition.
On August 9, Ms Gu was tried for poisoning Mr Heywood, blaming her actions on a “mental breakdown” she had suffered after becoming addicted to “hypnotic drugs”.
Ms Gu reportedly confessed to plotting Mr Heywood’s murder after he threatened to “destroy” her son during a financial row, a claim disputed by friends of the British businessman. She did not contest claims she had lured Mr Heywood to a hotel room in Chongqing before poisoning him with cyanide.
During Ms Gu’s trial details also emerged of Mr Wang’s alleged involvement in an elaborate cover-up attempt. At one point Ms Gu’s defence claimed Mr Wang and Ms Gu had conspired to have Mr Heywood shot and framed as a drug trafficker, according to one lawyer who was present at that trial.
So far Mr Bo has only been accused of violating “party discipline”.
Si Beibei, a government propaganda official in Chengdu, said Mr Wang’s trial would start at 8am on Tuesday and claimed the heavy presence of uniformed and plainclothes police outside the courthouse on Monday was a “security rehearsal”.
China’s state-run media has praised authorities for allowing Mr Wang an “open” trial.
But Ms Si confirmed the trial would effectively be closed to the foreign media.
“It is a public trial but not open to the media,” she said outside the courthouse which was cordoned off and surrounded by security forces and plainclothes security agents.
Ms Si said a press conference would be held “probably late afternoon [on Tuesday], after the trial is finished.” “You will get news at the meeting and may [be] allowed to raise questions.” Ms Si said.
“Someone who makes crimes should get this treatment.”The Telegraph
- China to Hold Trial of Ex-Police Chief on Tuesday (abcnews.go.com)
- China to hold trial of police chief at heart of political scandal (guardian.co.uk)
- China: Trial of Wang Lijun must begin soon for dealing with Bo’s case (chinadailymail.com)
- Blackmail cited as Gu Kailai’s motive in a killing that shook China (chinadailymail.com)