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'Ex-cop cooperated in murder case involving Bo wife'

September 18, 2012 16:58 IST

An ex-police chief, who triggered a major political scandal in China by exposing the role of disgraced Communist Party of China leader Bo Xilai's wife in the murder of a Briton, stood trial for the second and final day on Tuesday, with prosecutors seeking a lighter sentence for him, saying he cooperated with investigators.

Fifty-two-year-old Wang Lijun, who sought refuge in the United States consulate in Chengdu in February, was once a close aide of Bo. Wang, former police chief and vice mayor of Chongqing city, was himself facing charges for his own involvement in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, for which Bo's wife Gu Kailai was given suspended death sentence recently.

He had fled to the US Consulate in Chengdu in February, fearing reprisals from Bo and stayed there for 33 hours. He came out only after he was given assurance for his safety by

The central police and has since been held in custody at an unknown place.

His entry to the US mission and subsequent revelations about Gu's involvement in the murder effectively ended the flourishing political career of Bo, who was sacked from all his posts by the ruling CPC and is awaiting trial for shielding Gu.

Wang's trial, which was held at the Chengdu City Intermediate People's Court, was extensively covered by the state television as well as other official media on Tuesday, unlike Monday, when the court held secret proceedings to hear charges of violation of state secrets following his attempt to defect to the US.

Prosecutors said Wang knew perfectly well that Gu was under serious suspicion of intentional homicide, but initially he deliberately covered up for her so that she would not be held legally responsible, state-run Xinhua reported.

Wang was the police chief of Chingqing, which was headed by Bo until he was sacked for trying to cover his wife's role in Heywood's murder.

While slapping several charges, including of defection, misuse of power and corruption against him, the prosecutors sought a lighter sentence for Wang, saying he was instrumental in exposing the involvement of Gu in the murder.

"Prosecutors said that Wang made an important contribution to cracking the (Heywood murder) case, the penalty for the crime of bending the law for personal gains could be lighter," Xinhua said.

"After his defection to the US consulate general in Chengdu, Wang turned himself in and confessed to the crimes he had committed, which could be considered as voluntary surrender, according to prosecutors," the report said.

According to Article 67 of the criminal law, any criminal who voluntarily surrenders may be given a lighter or mitigated punishment, it said.

 The indictment against Wang said he had neglected his duty of investigating criminal acts and bent the law for personal gains.z

Prosecutors said Wang, as a state functionary who knew state secrets, left his post without authorisation and defected to another country's consulate while he was performing his official duty.

He was also charged with misusing technical reconnaissance measures against many people on multiple occasions, either without the approval of authorities or by forging approval documents.

"These acts have severely undermined the socialist rule of law, infringed citizens' legitimate rights and interests, and violated the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China," prosecutors said.

He was also charged with corruption for allegedly accepting money and property worth more than 3.05 million yuan ($484,127) in return for securing benefits for other individuals.

While demanding that he should be held criminally responsible on charges of bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking, the prosecutors sought lighter sentence for him for his cooperation in unravelling the Heywood case.

Wang's family and relatives, journalists, deputies to the People's Congress, political advisors, as well as ordinary citizens heard today's trial, Xinhua reported. The judgement would be given at a later date, the court said.

K J M Varma in Beijing
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