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Bo saga draws to close as China court upholds life term

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Fallen politician Bo Xilai stands in the court room of Shandong High Court in Jinan, east China's Shandong province, on October 25, 2013/AFP CCTV

Fallen politician Bo Xilai stands in the court room of Shandong High Court in Jinan, east China’s Shandong province, on October 25, 2013/AFP CCTV

JINAN, Oct 25 – A Chinese court rejected fallen politician Bo Xilai’s appeal against his corruption conviction and confirmed his life sentence Friday, as authorities looked to draw a line under a damaging scandal.

Until 2012 Bo headed the southwestern megacity of Chongqing and was one of the highest-ranked politicians in the ruling Communist party, but was engulfed by a lurid controversy that saw his wife convicted of murdering a British businessman.

He was condemned to life imprisonment on charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power last month, and analysts said that Friday’s decision meant there was no comeback for a man once tipped for the very top echelons of Chinese power.

“The facts of the first instance verdict are clear, the evidence is reliable, sufficient, and the sentence is appropriate,” the Shandong province high court said in its ruling, which it released to the media and posted on its website.

“The court rules as follows: reject the appeal, uphold the original verdict. This verdict is the final ruling.”

Bo had presented 11 grounds for appeal, it said, including that his confessions in custody were “produced under pressure from officials handling the case, and as illegal evidence should be disregarded”.

State broadcaster CCTV showed Bo handcuffed in court, wearing a black jacket and smiling as he was flanked by two towering policemen in white gloves.

At the end of the hearing, which lasted less than an hour, they frogmarched the 64-year-old out of the courtroom, each gripping an arm and a shoulder.

His elder son Li Wangzhi was present, along with other relatives, the images showed.

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Security was heavy around the courthouse in Jinan, the capital of Shandong in eastern China, with hundreds of police officers stationed every few metres around the building and the surrounding streets blocked off, with nearby shops closed.

The courts – which are tightly controlled by the ruling party – have no further obligation to reconsider his case after the appeal, lawyers said, and Bo is unlikely to appear in public again.

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