Police chief Wang jailed for 15 years in Bo scandal

Police chief Wang jailed for 15 years in Bo scandal

Police chief Wang jailed for 15 years in Bo scandal

Chongqing municipality ex-police chief Wang (C) looks on during his sentencing inside the courtroom in Chengdu. The court jails Wang for 15 years in Bo case. REUTERS photo

China’s ruling Communist Party took a big step towards sealing the fate of fallen politician Bo Xilai yesterday, when a court jailed his former police chief for 15 years over charges that indicated Bo tried to derail a murder inquiry.

Wang Lijun, the right-hand man of top politician Bo Xilai, fled to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February, sparking a crisis that saw Bo sacked and his wife found guilty of murder ahead of a generational transfer of power.

The court in Chengdu handed down the sentence against Wang after finding him guilty on “bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking,” including seeking to cover up the November 2011 murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood, by Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai. The scandal that felled both men erupted after Gu murdered Heywood in a hilltop hotel villa in Chongqing, the city where Bo was the party chief. Gu was given a suspended death sentence for the crime.

After first helping Gu evade suspicion of poisoning Heywood, Wang hushed up evidence of the murder.

In late January, Wang confronted Bo with the allegation that Gu was suspected of killing Heywood. But Wang was “angrily rebuked and had his ears boxed.” Days after the confrontation, Bo stripped Wang of his post as Chongqing police chief.

“Wang Lijun exposed clues of major law-breaking and crimes by others,” said the court verdict, according to the Xinhua news agency. It did not say who those other people were.

Next Bo?

“He rendered a major contribution, and according to the law he can receive a lighter sentence,” said the court. Wang could have received life imprisonment, or even a death sentence. Wang would not appeal against the sentence, said his lawyer Wang Yunca. The relatively mild sentence, following official confirmation that Wang shared incriminating clues and that Bo beat him after Wang confronted him over the murder allegations, added weight to predictions that the party will move to jail Bo too, said He Weifang, a law professor at Peking University who has closely followed the case.

Analysts told that it remained unclear whether the authorities would put Bo on criminal trial.