, China, Sept 24 – Chinese ex-police chief Wang Lijun, who triggered a scandal that shocked the Communist Party, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Monday for defection and other crimes, state media reported.
Wang fled to the US consulate in the southwestern city of Chengdu in February, sparking a crisis that saw top politician Bo Xilai sacked and his wife found guilty of murder ahead of a generational transfer of power.
Wang’s conviction and sentence are the latest move by the authorities to try to deal with the fall-out from the scandal ahead of the once-in-a-decade leadership transition at the Party congress, widely expected next month.
The former police chief of the sprawling metropolis of Chongqing, where Bo was the top Communist Party official, Wang was tried last week for defection, bribery, abuse of power and bending the law for selfish ends.
In its initial short report on his sentencing the official Xinhua news agency said he was given “a combined punishment for all offences” of 15 years by the Intermediate People’s Court.
State television CCTV quoted Wang as saying he would not appeal the penalty. It also said his combined term was 15 years, but gave the sentences as nine years for bribery, seven for bending the law, two for defection and two for abuse of power.
At his two-day trial Wang “did not raise an objection” to the charges, a court statement had said after the hearings.
While both defection and bribery can carry the death penalty in China, both prosecution and defence said Wang’s co-operation with the authorities meant he was eligible for a lighter sentence, according to the statement last week.
Wang sought asylum from US authorities during a 33 hour stay in the consulate, according to Xinhua’s trial report, which quoted him as saying: “I acknowledge and confess the guilt accused by the prosecuting body and show my repentance.”
Relations between Bo and Wang turned sour early this year, months after British businessman Neil Heywood, a close associate of Bo’s family, was found dead in a Chongqing hotel room.
Bo’s wife Gu Kailai was handed a suspended death sentence — usually commuted to life in prison — for Heywood’s murder last month.
The Xinhua account of the trial did not identify Bo by name but suggested he knew his wife was suspected of Heywood’s murder but did nothing, leaving him open to possible prosecution and imprisonment for sheltering a criminal.
Under Chinese law that offence carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.
Analysts have told AFP that the Communist party appears to be divided on whether Bo, who still has a number of high-level political allies and some public support, should be put on criminal trial.
The politician has not been seen in public for months and he faces an internal party investigation for “serious” violations of discipline.
Wang, 52, was drafted in by Bo, then the top party official in Chongqing, to lead an anti-mafia crackdown in the city which resulted in thousands of arrests.
But it sparked widespread accusations of torture and arbitrary arrests.