China’s sensational trial of disgraced politician Bo Xilai wound down Monday with the former Communist Party bigwig giving a performance reminiscent of Jack Nicholson’s Col. Nathan R. Jessup in “A Few Good Men,” railing against his accusers in self-righteous indignation.
Bo hurled invective at the testimonies of major witnesses for the prosecution, calling one “insane” and another “a vile liar.”
The 64-year-old could have played it cool and sought leniency, but chose instead to go out full of sound and fury ― and some might even say with a little style ― upstaging prosecutors at what was supposed to be a well-scripted two-day show trial.
|Bo Xilai. (Yonhap News)|
His combative courtroom antics and caustic putdowns of witnesses, more suited to a grandstanding film character than a staid Chinese apparatchik, dragged the trial out over five days, even though the outcome remained all but certain.
The trial amounts to a sorry end for one of the country’s political “princelings.” His father, Bo Yibo, was one of the superpowerful “Eight Elders” of the Chinese Communist Party.
Bo, seen as a contender for the top echelon of Chinese leadership just two years ago, now faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted of the three charges against him: bribery, embezzlement and covering up a murder.
If Bo failed to impress government lawyers during the trial, his courtroom ravings did strike a chord with Chinese bloggers, according to reporting by a Western media outlet.
“This man has remarkable logic, eloquence and memory. As someone who likes smart people, for a moment I almost forgot about his avarice, evilness and ruthlessness,” wrote one microblogger on Sina Weibo, China’s largest microblogging site.
Bo is charged with accepting more than $4 million in bribes from a tycoon, Xu Ming, including a $3 million villa on the French Riviera.
Besides bribery, Bo is charged with embezzling money from the northeastern city of Dalian, where he was mayor in the 1990s, and of covering up the murder of Neil Heywood, a British businessman who had managed real estate for his wife, Gu Kailai. Gu confessed last year to poisoning Heywood and provided testimony against her husband. She is currently serving a suspended death sentence ― effectively life in prison.
The Chinese government has not revealed when it will hand down its verdict.
By Philip Iglauer (firstname.lastname@example.org