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China to allow reporters to watch live TV coverage of Bo trial

  

Reuters

A reporter talks to police officers at the entrance of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court building, where the trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai will be held in Jinan, Shandong province August 21, 2013.

REUTERS

Bo's trial is officially scheduled to start on Thursday.

JINAN, China:The trial of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai will be televised live to reporters in eastern China, a Hong Kong-based broadcaster said, a landmark move by authorities to appear transparent as they put a lid on the country's biggest political scandal in decades.

Bo, 64, is set to appear in public for the first time in 17 months in a court in the eastern city of Jinan in Shandong province, capping the country's biggest political scandal since the 1976 downfall of the Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution.

The trial will be televised live to reporters in a hotel in Jinan, where a media reception center has been set up specially for reporters, Phoenix Television reported late on Tuesday, citing an unnamed television official from Shandong. There will also be live microblogging, the broadcaster said.

A court spokeswoman in Jinan told Reuters information about the proceedings would be given to journalists during the trial but said she had not received any information on whether it would be televised live.

Bo's trial is officially scheduled to start on Thursday.

But one of the charges against him, abuse of power, relates to his flouting the authority of central leaders in Beijing, sources told Reuters on Tuesday, an allegation so sensitive that his trial could start one day sooner to hear it in secret.

On Wednesday, however, there was no immediate sign that the trial had started. Several police officers stood around the courthouse, but the security presence was not exceptionally heavy.

Bo has also been charged with bribery and corruption. His wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun, have both been convicted and jailed in the scandal, which stems from the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood in November 2011.

On Wednesday, four petitioners gathered briefly outside the courthouse in Jinan, holding signs that said: "We're watching the Bo trial to see if it's fair and just."

"I have my own case for over 20 years and have come to see if Bo Xilai can get justice because if a member of the Politburo can get no justice, then we have no hope," Bao Runpu, a petitioner from northern Hebei province told Reuters.

Bo's son, Bo Guagua, has urged the authorities to allow his father to defend himself at his trial. Bo is almost certain to be found guilty, given that China's prosecutors and courts come under Communist Party control and courts have a 98 percent conviction rate.

Chinese state television broadcast excerpts from the trial of the Gang of Four in 1980. Jiang Qing, the wife of Mao Zedong, was removed from the courtroom several times after shouting down judges and insulting witnesses as she stood trial for the crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution.

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