In a major embarrassment for China’s powerful Communist Party, the charismatic politburo member Bo Xilai has been indicted on corruption charges. His trial will likely begin soon, the latest chapter in a dramatic tale of murder, betrayal and political infighting.
The government claims he abused his position for financial gain, resulting in “huge losses to the nation and the people.”
The state-run Xinhua news agency said “The circumstances are extremely serious”.
Bo’s wife has already been convicted of murder, and is serving a suspended death sentence.
Until March of 2012, the 64-year-old Bo was a member of the Communist Party’s policy-making politburo and party chief of Chongqing in southwestern China.
He now stands accused of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. The indictment claims he took advantage of his position as a civil servant and accepted an extremely large amount of money and properties, according to Xinhua. Published reports say the amount of bribes could be as high as 20 million yuan ($33 million).
Bo in currently in detention, and has not appeared in public since the scandal broke. He has been stripped of his politburo post and of his role as Chongqing party chief.
At least one source close to the Bo family has called the charges “ridiculous”. The source said, “The charges go way back when Bo was in Dalian. That’s more than 20 years ago. So they cannot find anything more recent?”
Family sources say they hope Bo will not fall for any offers of blackmail or compromise. They believe authorities might offer him leniency for himself or family members if he cooperates.
The family is also concerned about the political factional fighting at the top, and the impact it may have on Bo’s case.