BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese court said it will deliver a verdict Sunday against disgraced politician Bo Xilai on charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power in a case set in motion by his wife's murder of a British businessman.
The former Politburo member and Chongqing city party leader vigorously defended himself during his trial last month in the eastern city of Jinan, acknowledging mistakes in his leadership but admitting no guilt in the charges against him.
Prosecutors accused him of interfering with the investigation into his wife's murder of Briton Neil Heywood in November 2011, as well as other corruption uncovered by investigators. However, the case against him also was widely perceived as a result of his downfall in factional infighting ahead of China's leadership transition last fall.
The Jinan Intermediate People's Court said Wednesday on its Twitter-like Sina Weibo account that the verdict will be announced Sunday at 10 a.m.
In a sign of the event's importance, a hotel near the court that served as the venue for news conferences during Bo's trial is taking reservations only from accredited journalists through Monday, in an apparent effort to keep away members of the public, where Bo continues to command considerable support.
Bo, who was removed from office in March and expelled from the Communist Party in September, is the highest-ranking Chinese official to stand trial since former Beijing party chief Chen Xitong in 1998 and Shanghai party chief Chen Liangyu in 2008. They were sentenced to 16 and 18 years in prison respectively.
The corruption charges against Bo carry a maximum penalty of death, but many observers believe he will not receive the strictest possible sentence.