China's disgraced leader Bo Xilai mentioned the names of former President Hu Jintao and ex-security czar Zhou Yongkang during his high-profile trial over graft charges but the references were omitted from the transcript released by court, a media report said today.
While defending allegations of corruption against himself, 64-year-old Bo said that when he was the Commerce Minister he had briefed Hu, then General Secretary of CPC, about plans to grant permission to a private corporate group to import crude oil and petroleum, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported. Bo was later accused of receiving hefty bribes from the company.
"The official transcript also removed Bo's mention of retired state leaders. In one instance, Bo explained to the court that, while he was minister of commerce, he had briefed then president Hu Jintao aboard his state aircraft on how he intended to grant permission to Xu Ming's company, Dalian Shide Group, to act as a private importer of crude oil and petroleum", the report said.
Xu is the tycoon from Dalian, where Bo was once mayor. Xu was said to have bankrolled the luxurious lifestyle of Bo's wife Gu Kailai and their son, Bo Guagua. Xu is also facing corruption charges.
The daily quoted "people with knowledge of the proceedings" as saying that Bo also claimed during his trial that he received orders from a law and order committee headed by China's former head of internal security Zhou on how to deal with the defection of Chongqing police chief Wang Lijiun to the US Consulate seeking asylum. Bo, who is awaiting a verdict on charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power after his sensational five-day trial, is widely seen as an ally of Zhou. The Court's verdict in the trial that concluded last week will be pronounced at a later date.
Wang, 53, a close aide of Bo escaped to the US Consulate in Chengdu fearing reprisals from Bo over the investigations into his wife Gu's role in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Wang came out of the US Consulate at the intervention of central leadership and blew the lid over Bo's activities, leading to his ouster from the Communist Party of China (CPC). Wang is serving a 15-year jail term and was produced as the main witness against Bo during the trial.
Wang alleged that Bo punched him on the face when he revealed Gu's involvement in the murder. Gu was given a suspended death sentence in the murder case last year. The report said that the references to top leaders concerning allegations of corruption and abuse of power were not released to the media by the Jinan People's Intermediate Court which was credited to have conducted "open trial" for the first time in modern China's judicial history.
Observers said that Bo's attempts to drag top retired leaders who handed over power to the new set of leadership headed by Xi Jinping violated an unwritten convention of sparing the retired leaders. They said it could open a pandora's box that could shake the 64-year-old ruling CPC's hold on power. Bo's words to the court last week are the first direct evidence linking him to Zhou, himself now the subject of a party investigation for corruption, the Post report said.
An earlier report said that new party leaders have endorsed investigations against Zhou, the ninth ranked member of nine-member all powerful Standing Committee headed by Hu, which relinquished power in the once-in-a-decade power transfer of CPC last year. A prosecution statement about the matter relating to Zhou was first redacted and then removed from the official trial transcript, the Post report said.
It suggests Zhou, was at least in contact with Bo about his handling of Wang's defection to the US consulate in Chengdu in February last year. That incident brought down Bo, then head of Chongqing city and triggered China's biggest political scandal in decades. At the time, Zhou was head of the Communist Party's Central Commission for Political and Legal Affairs.
Zhou was also reported to have supported Bo's campaign to revive hardline Maoist ideology restricting the economic reform path undertaken by the CPC. He also reportedly backed Bo's plans to contest to be a member of the new seven-member standing committee headed by President Xi Jinping. The commission oversees the nation's courts, prosecutors and the police.
Three separate sources who either attended the trial or were later briefed on proceedings were quoted by the report as saying that the prosecution and Bo spelled out clearly in court that he got a six-item order from the "Central Political and Legal Affairs Committee" when handling Wang's defection.
An official transcript of the trial posted online on Monday only said that Bo had received orders from a higher body. However, this version, too, was changed within minutes to make no mention of Bo receiving orders from above, the report said.