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Bo Xilai corruption trial of the century set to begin

Xilai has been awaiting trial on charges of corruption and abuse of power.

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Chinese officials ready for the Bo Xilai corruption trial which begins on Thursday. ( Feng Li/AFP/Getty Images)

The trial of the once-powerful Chinese politician Bo Xilai is set to begin Thursday.

Bo, the former Communist Party chief in the southwestern city of Chongqing and member of the party's 25-member Politburo, has been awaiting trial on charges of corruption and abuse of power ever since.

He also faces charges of bribery and embezzlement, mostly from his early years as a politician.

The November 2011 murder of British businessman Neil Heywood triggered Bo’s spectacular fall from grace in 2012, just months before the Communist party leadership change.

The rising star was quickly stripped of his position and his wife was made the prime suspect in the murder, to which she is said to have confessed.

Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence in August last year which will likely be commuted to a life term, according to the Associated Press.

More from GlobalPost: Family of Briton Neil Heywood, murdered by wife of Bo Xilai, seeks compensation

The scandal and murder was said to have exposed some of the most vicious infighting inside the Communist Party.

The New York Times writes that the trial will be a delicate balancing act for China.

It both aims to show Bo as a criminal, and to maintain the credibility of the populist policies that the former leader championed.

Many of Bo's far-leftist supporters, who keep Mao and Marx as patron saints, have been gently silenced by the Communist Party.

They believe that the trial has already been decided and that the charges are based on personal vendettas.

Just days before his trial is to begin, critics have come out to denounce authorities' handling of the case.

Bo's son, who resides in the United States, criticized the communist government's treatment of his parents.

A forensic expert who cast doubt on the the murder case involving Bo's wife, resigned in protest of China's justice system, deemed corrupt and unjust.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/130821/bo-xilai-corruption-trial-the-century-set-begin