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China tightens media control before Bo trial

August 23, 2013

By Saibal Dasgupta

BEIJING: The Chinese government enhanced controls over the Internet and tightened security around the premises of a court in Jinan citywhich will try disgraced politician Bo Xilai on Thursday. However, many believe that a guilty verdict has been pre-arranged and possibly negotiated with Bo’s lawyers.

Bo, a former member of the Communist Party of China’s politburo, is accused of major disciplinary violations and faces corruption charges during his tenure as minister of commerce and city of Chongqing, apart from being accused of “improper sexual relationship with a number of women”.

There were a few muted protests against “unfair trail” in China, showing that the once charismatic leader has not entirely lost his appeal after losing power 17 months back, and being painted as a criminal by the state media since then.

“We’re watching the Bo trial to see if it’s fair and just,” read a signboard put up by a group of around 10 protestors near the court house on Wednesday. Some said keeping him under house arrest for so long before a fair trial was a violation of the Communist Party charter.

The police have put up barricades and other crowd control systems around the court house to avoid any security lapses. This will be the third time in recent years that the Communist Party chief of a major city will go on trial. The former party chiefs of Shanghai and Beijing have been found guilty of corruption and abuse of power, and Bo, who earlier led the party in Chongqing, will be treated along those lines, sources said.

This will be the first time in 18 months that Bo will be seen in public because the government has promised an open trial. But speculation is rife on whether he will be allowed to speak on different charges that include abuse of power, attempts to cover up investigations in a murder case involving his wife, Gu Kaili, and corruption.

Official censors have asked the media to follow the news report put out by Xinhua, sources said. There are more than 300 journalists waiting to cover the trial but most of them will have little work to do if the Chinese media follows just one news source. Read more in The Times of India.

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