Bo Xilai to appeal conviction: media reports

Bo Xilai to appeal conviction: media reports

Bo Xilai to appeal conviction: media reports

Updated 24 September 2013, 7:04 AEST

Reports say Bo Xilai has announced he will appeal against his life sentence.

Former high-ranking Chinese politician Bo Xilai has reportedly announced he will appeal his conviction and sentence for corruption.

A lawyer with direct knowledge of the case has told AFP news agency that Bo "informed the court yesterday of his request for an appeal following the verdict".

"According to Chinese law, the court must accept his oral request," the unnamed source said, adding that Bo "will appeal the entire verdict".

Bo was sentenced over the weekend to life in prison.

In a dramatic fall, the one-time Chinese political high flyer was found guilty of taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of power.

It is believed an appeal is unlikely to be successful, as Chinese courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party.

High profile case

The case at the court in the eastern city of Jinan exposed intrigue and wealth at senior levels of the party.

Bo was unusually defiant during the sensational court proceedings, mounting a spirited defence and maintaining his innocence throughout the five-day hearing last month - a rare occurrence in Chinese trials where defendants are typically quick to admit guilt.

Before his downfall, Bo had been a popular politician with an unusually open and charismatic style and a member of the Chinese Communist Party's top 25-member Politburo.

As party chief of the south-western city Chongqing, he poured billions into public works and social housing programmes, as well as launching a high-profile anti-crime campaign which won him fans across China.

However, when reports of forced confessions and torture during the crackdown emerged, horrifying Chinese liberals,

questions arose about Bo's ambitions and possible implications on party unity.

The beginning of Bo's downfall came in February 2012 when his top aide - Chongqing police chief at the time, Wang Lijun - fled to a US consulate with evidence that Bo's wife had murdered a British businessman.

Infighting within senior ranks of the party about how to deal with the scandal meant Bo didn't go to trial until a year and a half later.

The court sentenced him to life in prison, finding him guilty of taking 20.4 million yuan ($US3.3 million) in bribes.

China's new leadership, under President Xi Jinping, is trying to show it's serious about combating corruption and state-run media is lauding the trial as an example of these efforts.

"The sentence Bo received shows that no corrupt element is immune from the fight," the China Daily said in an editorial.

Setting an example

However some analysts believe Bo's trial is more about politics than corruption.

David Zweig from Hong Kong's University of Science and Technology says the objective of the trial was to ensure Bo was silenced, not to uncover graft.

He says the the ending of his political career has the broader aim of weakening the party's left-wing elements.

"It is not just the standard purge," he said.

"He will spend a lot of time in jail.

"It is a message to the left they do not have someone they can rally around here - he is done for."