Fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai appeared in public for the first time in more than a year on Thursday to face trial in eastern China, the final chapter of the country\’s most politically charged case in more than three decades.
Government-run microblogs, which are releasing details of the tightly choreographed court proceedings, said Bo denied receiving some of the bribes he is accused of taking during his time in the eastern city of Dalian, where he served as mayor and party chief.
The official Xinhua news agency says Bo, who is also being charged with corruption and abuse of power, told the court that he hopes the trial can be held "in a reasonable and fair manner and follow the legal proceedings of our country."
A picture released by state media showed the 64-year-old standing in the dock with his hands folded in front of him, surrounded by two policemen. It was the first time he has been seen in public for 17 months.
Government-run broadcaster CCTV reported the trial in Jinan, the capital of eastern Shandong Province, will last two days and that a verdict is expected in early September. It is China\’s most closely watched trial in decades.
Outside the court, police blocked off streets with large plastic barriers. Nearby, a few Bo supporters who held a protest questioning the fairness of the trial were quickly hustled away by police for a second straight day.
Though state media said 19 journalists were allowed into the courtroom, foreign media were kept out and the trial was not televised, reflecting the government\’s sensitivity about the case.
But official government microblogs did provide what some called an unprecedented, real-time account of the proceedings, as prosecutors laid out the charges against Bo.
The trial – which started at 08:30 (00:30 GMT) – is taking place at the Intermediate People\’s Court in Jinan, which is in Shandong province.
Bo\’s wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of the murder of Briton Neil Heywood.
Bo, 64, had been seen as a candidate for promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee, China\’s seven-member top decision-making body.
Instead he faces multiple charges and is widely expected to be found guilty.
His downfall was seen as the biggest political shake-up to hit China\’s ruling elite in decades.
According to the indictment posted by the court, Mr Bo is accused of receiving bribes totalling 21.8m yuan ($3.56m) from two Dalian-based businessmen.
Prosecutors said his son, Bo Guagua, and his wife were involved in accepting some the bribes.
The abuse of power charge is connected to his wife\’s role in Heywood\’s murder, it said.
The court\’s microblog also quoted an exchange between Bo and the judge.
"I hope the judge will try this case fairly and justly according to the law of the country," Bo reportedly said.
"Your opinion has been understood, the court will independently carry out the judicial process and try the case according to the law," the judge reportedly responded.
Bo is a former member of the Communist Party\’s 25-member Politburo and ex-party chief of the southwest megacity, Chongqing. Before his downfall, he was thought to be a top contender for the elite Politburo Standing Committee at a leadership transition last year.
His downfall began last February, when his police chief Wang Lijun fled to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, where he told American diplomats about Bo\’s alleged role in covering up the murder of a British businessman.
Earlier this week, Bo\’s son, Bo Guagua, issued a statement from the US saying he hoped his father would have the chance "to answer his critics and defend himself without constraints of any kind".
The verdict, he said, would carry no weight if his well-being had been "bartered for my father\’s acquiescence or my mother\’s further co-operation".