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Bo Xilai's son returns to China to play role in father's 'imminent' trial

Monday, 15 October 2012 - 9:02am IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph

After the Communist party unveiled the results of an investigation against his father last month, Bo Guagua spoke out to defend him.

The son of Bo Xilai, the fallen Communist party leader, has quietly returned to China and could play a key role in the "imminent" trial of his father, The Daily Telegraph has learnt.

One report on Sunday suggested Bo's trial could begin as early as today.

His second son, Bo Guagua, has been in the United States since the scandal broke where until May this year he was studying at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

He once had a bright future as the scion of one of China's most powerful political families.

However, two sources, one in both Chongqing and Beijing, said the 24-year-old former Harrow and Oxford University student has now returned to China.

"Bo Guagua flew back to Beijing last week," said a source in Chongqing who has repeatedly provided accurate information on the saga around the Bo family. "He stepped into a police car as soon as he landed and is most probably with the investigation team now. He could potentially appear in court," he added.

Lao Rong, a citizen journalist who has a controversial track record, but who commands a following of over 376,000 people on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, said he had independently heard that the younger Bo, is now back in the Chinese capital.

"The Prince arrived safely and on schedule at the airport and enjoyed a police chauffeur service on arrival," he posted on his Weibo account last Thursday.

After the Communist party unveiled the results of an investigation against his father last month, Bo Guagua spoke out to defend him, saying the allegations were "hard to believe" and that he was "upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty".

In August, his mother Gu Kilai confessed to murdering Heywood, a 42-year-old British businessman and family friend and was given a suspended death sentence. His father is also accused of being complicit in Heywood's death, and could serve at least 20 years in prison for a range of offences, including corruption.

Bo Guagua's return to Beijing comes amid rumours that his father's trial is imminent. Mingjing News, a Hong Kong newspaper which has been more often wrong than right about Communist party politics, reported that the trial will begin today in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. Bo is likely to be put on trial in a "neutral" location, well away from his power bases in Beijing, Chongqing and Dalian.

But Changsha, if correct, would be a theatrical flourish by the Party leadership: it is the home city of Mao Tse-tung, whose revolutionary ideology Bo so often espoused.

The source in Chongqing, who asked not to be named, said Baoding, a People's Liberation Army garrison city some 90 miles south of Beijing, and Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, had both also been rumoured as possible locations.

"But Changsha is the most likely," he said, adding that he had not heard the date of the trial.

One post on Weibo suggested that all Chinese newspapers have been instructed to "clear space" for major news arriving today or tomorrow.

However, one diplomatic source said the news could be Bo's indictment, rather than an actual trial. "I heard a rumour that charges will be laid at the court on October 15 or 16. If so, according to the criminal procedure law, a trial would follow within 15 days," he added.

That leaves just enough time for the Party to wrap up the deeply divisive case before it opens its 18th Party Congress on November 8 and readies a once-in-a-decade change of its top leaders.

The source said Bo Guagua had already cooperated with the Communist party's internal investigation into his family, giving evidence in the United States before his mother, Gu Kailai, went on trial in Hefei in August.

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