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Bo Xilai's eloquence and his attorneys' tireless defense failed to break the public prosecutor's chain of evidence and convince the judicial committee of his innocence. The Intermediate People's Court of Jinan certified most of the procuratorial evidence, all but the 1.34 million yuan ($218,821) allegedly spent on air tickets for Bo's family.
Former Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai is sentenced to life in prison at a court in Jinan, Shandong province, on Sunday.[Photo/Xinhua]
The trial of Bo showcased the political will of the central authorities to tackle corruption with an iron fist. Bo is with the highest ranking of 10 officials above vice-ministerial level, who have been investigated for abuse of power since last year. Bo's trial and the life imprisonment he has got for embezzlement of public money and abuse of power speaks volumes for the central authorities' resolve to root out corruption.
China's top leaders have expressed on different occasions that the fight against corruption has much to do with the fate of the country's ruling Communist Party of China and that of the Chinese nation.
There had been concerns that the fight was aimed only at those below the vice ministerial level and deride the crackdown as only targeting flies rather than tigers. The sentence Bo received shows that no corrupt element is immune from the fight.
The manner in which it was conducted was a far more significant legacy. Before the trial, not many people expected that it would be broadcast via a micro blog. Viewing the trial live on the Internet, many expressed the view that this trial had set a good precedent for similar trials in the future.
It is a well-touted judicial clich that court judgments must be based on facts and in accordance with the law. Bo's active counter-arguments against the charges and the fastidious debates over the evidence in court displayed an inspiring respect for the rule of law.
That the entire court proceedings in this case were made public via a micro blog was unprecedented in Chinese judicial practice. Subjecting court proceedings to public scrutiny is a big step forward in the construction of rule of law.
That four days prior to Bo receiving his verdict, a former teacher in Hunan province, who spent five years in prison after being sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly murdering his wife, was finally declared not guilty for "an incomplete chain of evidence" adds to our confidence in the positive change taking place in Chinese courts.
(China Daily 09/23/2013 page8)