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China schedules Bo Xilai verdict

The timing of the corruption verdict is a nod to the former senior official's lingering power.

Bo xilai verdict SundayEnlarge
On Sunday, in the middle of a four-day holiday, Chinese officials will announce the verdict in the Bo Xilai corruption case. ( Feng Li/AFP/Getty Images)

HONG KONG — When it comes to delivering touchy news, China, like the White House, has shrewd timing.

Wednesday, the northeastern Chinese court that held the trial of fallen princeling Bo Xilai said on its Weibo feed that it would deliver his verdict on Sunday at 10 a.m. — smack dab in the midst of a four-day holiday weekend.

A popular and charismatic politician, Bo retains some grassroots support in China. His defiant defense during the five-day trial last month for bribery and embezzlement surprised some observers, who expected the Communist Party to stage a quick, open-shut case to dispense with Bo. The relative mildness of the charges also suggests that Party insiders may have agreed not to pursue a death sentence for Bo, because such a penatly could have sparked a backlash.

Earlier this week, Bo's family and inner circle received a letter from him written in jail, according to the South China Morning Post. In it, Bo seemed to take courage from the example of his father, a Communist Party elder who was imprisoned several times and politically purged, only to end his career as one of China's most revered leaders.

"I will wait quietly in prison," he wrote. "My father was jailed many times. I will follow in his footsteps."

The letter also expressed hope that the Bo family's political lineage would continue through his sons. His younger son, Bo Guagua, is enrolled to begin law school this year at Columbia University in New York City.

"I wish they could take over the family tradition and achieve something," Bo wrote.

While the severity of Bo's sentence is unknown, the verdict is expected to be guilty.