The ex-police chief at the centre of a seamy political scandal will be sentenced on Monday as Chinese leaders move to dispatch with a messy affair that has upset a tricky transition of power.
The Intermediate People’s Court in Chengdu today announced the verdict date for Wang Lijun, who is charged with defecting, abuse of power and other charges.
It is a relatively quick turnaround from Wang’s two-day trial, which ended on Tuesday.
Once the verdict is pronounced, Chinese leaders are expected to deal with the scandal’s most nettlesome issue – whether to prosecute Wang’s former boss, disgraced leader Bo Xilai.
Wang, a headline-grabbing, imperious police chief in the inland city of Chongqing, set off the scandal when he sought refuge in a nearby US consulate in February.
Inside, he told US diplomats that Mr Bo’s wife had murdered a British businessman over a business dispute. Prosecutors said he also applied for asylum.
In an official account of his trial, prosecutors argued that Wang was entitled to a more lenient punishment because after he surrendered to Chinese authorities, he exposed Gu Kailai’s murder of Briton Neil Heywood.
Without naming Mr Bo, the account also hints that he knew about the murder but did nothing. The glancing reference to Mr Bo suggests that he is likely to face criminal charges.
Unwinding the scandal and dealing with Mr Bo has sparked internal debate in the secretive Chinese leadership and complicated its plans to hand over power to a younger generation of leaders this autumn.