Court Upholds Life Sentence for Bo Xilai

A screen shows the picture of the sentence of Chinese politician Bo Xilai (Center) on September 22, 2013 in Beijing, China. The Jinan Intermediate People's Court announced Bo Xilai, former member of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Sunday for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

A court in east China on Friday rejected an appeal by Bo Xilai, a former top member of China's Communist Party, against last month's lower court ruling in which he was sentenced to life in prison for taking bribes, embezzling public funds and abuse of power.

The decision by the Higher People's Court of Shandong Province is final as China has a two-tiered system of justice that is highly controlled by the party.

With the conclusion of Bo's case, one of the party's most embarrassing scandal in decades, the new Chinese government under President Xi Jinping will try to consolidate its power, such as through next month's key meeting of senior officials to discuss major policies.

Hou Jianjun, deputy chief judge of the court, addressed the press after Friday's decision and said that the facts presented in the original trial were clear, evidence was abundant and substantiated and the sentencing was appropriate while Bo's appeal lacked factual and legal backing.

"According to the Criminal Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China, the appeal is rejected, original judgment is upheld. The ruling is final," Hou said.

Appearing in deep blue trousers and sneakers while cuffed by a wrist shackle, Bo appeared relaxed and smiled in court.

His court appearance was shown on a video clip broadcast on state-run CCTV.

Four of Bo's family members also attended the hearing, it was reported.

The court announced earlier this month it would hear Bo's appeal after he refused to accept the verdicts and sentences handed down by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in September.

Bo, 64, a former member of the Political Bureau of the party's Central Committee, was found guilty of taking 20.45 million yuan ($3.34 million) in bribes, embezzling 5 million yuan in public funds and abusing his power by interfering with the investigation into his wife's murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in November 2011.

Bo had been tipped for membership in China's most powerful political body, the party's Politburo Standing Committee, ahead of the country's once-in-a-decade leadership transition last fall.

During his five-day trial last month, Bo, who was party chief of the southwestern city Chongqing until his downfall in March 2012, denied all charges against him and recanted his earlier confessions of guilt.

The Jinan court, which said Bo caused "huge damage to the country and its people," found him guilty of all the charges filed against him.

He was sentenced to life in prison for bribe-taking, 15 years for embezzlement and seven years for abuse of power.

Bo, the "princeling" son of a late vice premier, was the highest-ranking Chinese party official to stand trial since former Shanghai party secretary Chen Liangyu in 2008.

Chen got an 18-year prison term for corruption.