Bo tells China corruption trial his wife is 'insane'
JINAN, China - Agence France-Presse
Journalists look at a broadcast of Gu Kailai (C), who is the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, as she gives a recorded testimony during his trial at the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, Shandong Province on August 23, 2013. AFP PhotoFallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai described his wife as "insane" Friday after his corruption trial heard video testimony from her implicating him in bribery, in a case that is gripping the communist-run country.
Gu Kailai, once a high-flying lawyer but convicted last year of murdering Neil Heywood, the British businessman whose death sparked the corruption scandal that brought Bo down, looked nervous in the pre-recorded video.
She described telling her husband of a series of bribes, but Bo told the court she was mentally unstable and had compared herself to a historical Chinese assassin, telling him she felt "heroic" when killing Heywood.
The scandal erupted in advance of a generational shift of power atop China's Communist Party, and Bo's feisty performance over the two days of his trial has astonished a public unfamiliar with the open airing of top-level intrigue.
In her testimony to the court in Jinan, in eastern China, Gu said she feared Heywood would kidnap and kill the couple's son Bo Guagua in the United States.
She looked thin and pale during the questioning, recorded earlier this month. It was played in court the day after Bo pleaded ignorance to her dealings, and released by the court on Chinese social media, where it had more than one million views in an hour.
Asked if Bo knew about airline tickets and other items provided by business tycoon Xu Ming -- who prosecutors said had bribed him to the tune of 20.7 million yuan ($3.4 million) -- Gu said: "I told him." According to transcripts of Friday's hearing released by the court on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Bo said: "She is insane now and she often tells lies.
"The investigators placed enormous pressure on her to expose me when she was mentally disordered." She had compared herself to Jing Ke, who more than 2,000 years ago tried and failed to kill the man who would become the first emperor of a unified China, he added.
The claim was "sufficient to prove that she was mentally disordered", Bo said.
He asked for Gu to testify in person, but the chief judge said she had already refused to do so and the court could not compel her.
Bo, once one of China's highest-flying politicians, denied the second charge he faces, embezzlement of five million yuan of public funds. The third accusation, abuse of power, has yet to be addressed.
The trial was widely expected to last for up to two days, but will continue for a third day Saturday, the court announced as Friday's hearing ended.
State-run media have proclaimed the proceedings a mark of transparency.
Bo presented an unexpectedly spirited defence as the trial began on Thursday, comparing one witness, businessman Tang Xiaolin, to a "mad dog" who appeared to have "sold his soul".
State broadcaster CCTV on Friday released video of Bo cross-examining Xu Ming, a former prawn seller who built a huge fortune after developing a relationship with Bo's family.
In a colourful exchange -- which touched on a football club, a hot air balloon and the purchase of a French villa -- Bo argued the tycoon had not made him aware of the transactions.
But prosecutors said that in a previous written statement Bo admitted Xu provided "enormous financial assistance" in "a deal in a special form, in which I helped him 'grow fast' and he helped me 'raise the child'", apparently referring to Bo Guagua.
Bo's populist politics won supporters across China but alienated top party leaders who saw his brash approach as a return to a bygone era of strongman rule.
Backroom political discussions ahead of the trial have ensured that a guilty verdict from the court is almost certain, with a lengthy prison sentence likely to follow, analysts say.
At least five relatives attended the hearing, including Li Wangzhi, Bo's son from his first marriage. In a statement to The New York Times Li thanked "the party central authorities and the court for giving the defendant greater rights to a defence and freedom than he had expected", adding he was "proud" of his father.
"I hope that my father will continue to respect the law, and that the law may also respect the facts, and leave the people an explanation, leave history an explanation, and leave his son an explanation too," said Li, who is in his mid-30s and had reportedly not seen his father for several years.
Bo Xilai's own father, revolutionary military leader Bo Yibo, also gained a reputation for defying the authorities, refusing to admit any wrongdoing while he was jailed and abused during the Cultural Revolution.
Police -- uniformed and plain-clothed -- blocked off roads around the court again on Friday morning, with the only journalists able to gain entry to the proceedings from state-run media.