27 Oct 2012

Disgraced Chinese politican under criminal investigation

12:48 pm on 27 October 2012

Chinese state media have announced that a criminal investigation has been launched into disgraced politician Bo Xilai.

Mr Bo - a former high-flier once tipped for the top echelons of power - was earlier expelled from parliament, stripping him of immunity from prosecution.

State media say Mr Bo has been accused of abuse of power, bribe-taking and violating party discipline.

He once led the Communist Party in the city of Chongqing, and had been expelled from the party last month.

His wife, Gu Kailai, was jailed in August for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

His former deputy, police chief Wang Lijun, has also been jailed in connection with the scandal, which came as China prepares for its 10-yearly power transition.

Legislators are due to meet on 8 November for the 11th National People's Congress, at which the new top leaders will be unveiled.

Not seen in public since

When Mr Bo was expelled from the party, a statement said his "suspected law violations" would be transferred to "judicial organs". A timescale for this process, and any subsequent trial, has not been announced.

Nor has he been seen in public since the investigation into him and his family was announced.

Mr Bo had been seen as a leading candidate for a position in the party's top decision-making body - the Standing Committee of the politburo - in the leadership change.

His populist policies, crackdown on crime and promotion of "red" culture - harking back to the Mao Zedong era - had won him support.

His downfall has been seen as exposing divisions between more reformist and more left-leaning groupings among China's top leaders.