Bo Xilai tells court he was victim of love triangle

Bo Xilai looking on as he stands on trial at the Intermediate People’s Court in Jinan, east China’s Shandong province. Photo: AFP/CCTVJinan: Bo Xilai, the fallen star of Chinese politics, saved his finest performance for the fifth and final episode of China’s gripping courtroom drama.

In a last stand that flitted frequently between the sublimely eloquent and the ridiculously lurid, he said the real reason his trusted police chief Wang Lijun betrayed him was for love – Wang had developed secret feelings for  Mr Bo’s wife, Gu Kailai.

“He had hidden feelings for her, his emotions were in a knot, he couldn’t control himself,” he said in his closing arguments, according to court transcripts.

The trial concluded on Monday afternoon. The judge said a verdict will be delivered at a “later date”, expected to be within the next month.

Mr Bo said Wang had come clean about his feelings for Gu when he tried to give her a letter, where he slapped himself across the face eight times in a show of contrition for his forbidden love.

But then Mr Bo appeared suddenly, prompting Wang to flee in a panic to the US consulate in Chengdu in February 2012, setting off China’s most sensational political scandal in a generation.  “He knows my personality,” Mr Bo said. “He’s harmed my family and my most primal feelings. This is the real reason he defected.”

He said he regretted damaging the party’s image, and was ”sorry to the party and the people”, but insisted that allegations of  corruption against him were wrong.

Acknowledging that he might face the rest of his life in prison, he said he felt ”very conflicted”.

”I know I’m not perfect. I can be self-centred, bad-tempered, I have made serious errors and mistakes,” he said. ”I had no intention of driving Wang Lijun away. Who knew one slap could create a traitor?”

Mr Bo was stood down as Chongqing party secretary in March 2012. A subsequent investigation saw him expelled from the Communist Party and charged with receiving bribes, corruption and abuse of power.

Prosecutors have produced Mr Bo’s confession as the smoking gun, in which he admitted that billionaire businessman Xu Ming provided a “huge amount” of financial assistance to his wife and in particular his son, Bo Guagua, when he was studying abroad.

“In essence it was a special deal: I help him develop [his business interests] quickly, he in turn takes care of my child,” Mr Bo was said to have written.

But he said the confession, made during the investigation phase, was made in the hope of cutting a deal with authorities “because I still had a burning hope in my heart to remain in the party and extend my political life”.

He has since recanted the confession and fought every charge.

In court on Monday, Mr Bo denied he had a close relationship with Mr Xu: “He knows what level of person he is in my eyes … we’re not in the same league. Who am I? The commerce minister [at the time]. Who is he?”

He also poured scorn on suggestions that Gu  would have kept him appraised of “trivial matters” like receiving financial assistance from Mr Xu.

“In my heart, she is a multi-talented woman, do you think she would want to leave me with the impression of her as a housewife? Does she still want me to have feelings for her, to love her?”

Despite his feisty theatrics, Mr Bo is considered unlikely to escape a guilty verdict.

“Let me remind the court …  the defendant committed extremely serious crimes, and refused to plead guilty, there is no room for leniency,” one prosecutor said on Monday.

Prosecutors said the case showed China’s resolution to fight corruption in accordance with the law: “No matter how high his ranking is, how powerful he is, as long as he violates the law, he will be punished without exception.”

Wang told Mr Bo about Gu’s murder of British businessman Neil Heywood on January 28, 2012, which led to an altercation where Mr Bo struck Wang just below his left ear.

Fearing for his life, the police chief fled to the US consulate in Chengdu on February 6, 2012, armed with information of Gu’s role in the murder.

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