Beijing: Decks have been cleared for the trial of disgraced Chinese leader Bo Xilai, as his former police chief was Monday sentenced to 15 years in jail for attempting to defect to the US and other crimes, ahead of a generational power transfer in the ruling Communist party.
Chengdu Intermediate People`s Court in Sichuan Province convicted Wang Lijun, 52, the former vice mayor and police chief of Chongqing city, and sentenced him to 15 years jail term for misusing of power, attempting to defect to the US and for accepting bribes.
The closure of Wang`s case, which hit global headlines after he sought asylum in the US Consulate in Chengdu in southwest China in February this year fearing reprisals from Bo for probing his wife Gu Kailai`s role into the murder of British businessman, Neil Heywood cleared the way for Bo`s trial.
Wang came out after US mission received assurances from Chinese police to protect his life. His revelations of Gu`s involvement in the murder and Bo`s attempts to shield her helped the government to prosecute him and Gu.
Wang had charged Bo of slapping him at one time, which he said prompted him to seek asylum in the US to save himself.
Bo, head of the Chongqing Communist Party unit was suspended from all posts he held after Wang’s defection to US mission.
Apparently the disciplinary inquiry by the Communist party has been completed and he is expected to go on trial as Gu and Wang have already been convicted.
Gu has been given a suspended death sentence in the murder case of British businessman in November 2011.
The verdict comes as the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) prepares to hold its 18th Congress in the coming weeks here to select new leadership to replace the present leaders, headed by President Hu Jintao, who is also the General Secretary of the party.
Bo, who became popular with Maoist rhetoric, was in the race to contest top position in the nine member standing committee of the central committee of the CPC which govern China.
Bo lost out after he was sacked from all positions in the party following the scandal kicked off by Wang, once his close aide.
The Chengdu court sentenced Wang to 20 years in prison for bending the law for selfish ends for defection, abusing power, but condensed prison term to 15 years as prosecutors had sought lighter sentence for his co-operation of rendering "meritorious service" in unravelling the involvement of Gu.
Wang`s lawyer said he won`t contest the sentence.
Prosecutors also praised Wang`s cooperation in revealing details of his defection into US Consulate in February where he sought asylum asked for lighter sentence to him.
Wang was also deprived of political rights for an year for defection which means that he cannot take part in any role in the Party where he held some middle rung positions before his arrest.