China’s state-run news agency has linked fallen politician Bo Xilai to a criminal act for the first time, alleging he knew his wife Gu Kailai was suspected of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood.
Xinhua quoted witnesses at the trial of his former right-hand man, Wang Lijun, suggesting that Wang had tried to tell Bo Xilai about his suspicions.
Wang Lijun was “angrily rebuked and had his ears boxed”, Xinhua reports.
Bo Xilai’s downfall exposed the biggest political crisis in China for years.
His wife, Gu Kailai, was found guilty in August of murdering Neil Heywood. She was given a suspended death sentence.
Wang Lijun was the former police chief and deputy mayor in Chongqing, where Bo Xilai was Communist Party chief until the scandal erupted.
Earlier this week Wang Lijun pleaded guilty to defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking charges during a two-day trial in the nearby city of Chengdu. A verdict is awaited.
He tried to tell “the Chongqing party committee’s main responsible person at the time” about his suspicions about Gu Kailai, says Xinhua in its official published account of his trial, without naming Bo Xilai.
As Chongqing Communist Party chief, Bo Xilai was tipped for promotion to the top leadership ranks at China’s forthcoming leadership congress before his downfall.
Wang Lijun’s flight to a US consulate in Chengdu in February sparked the events which led to his downfall.
According to the UK Foreign Office, Wang Lijun made allegations about Neil Heywood’s death while at the US consulate.
Shortly afterwards, Bo Xilai was sacked.
He has not been seen in public since the scandal erupted and is said to be under investigation by the party’s disciplinary officials.
Wang Lijun, 52, began his career in law enforcement in the Inner Mongolia Region in 1984 and moved to the south-western city of Chongqing in 2008.