JINAN, China (AP) — China's most sensational trial in decades ended Monday with disgraced politician Bo Xilai hinting at a love triangle involving his wife and former right hand man — both key witnesses against him — as he made last-ditch efforts to redeem his reputation.
The prosecution countered by saying Bo should be severely punished because he showed no remorse in the five-day corruption trial in this eastern China city that offered lurid glimpses into an elite Chinese family's underhanded enrichment and sordid unraveling.
Bo hints at a love triangle involving his wife, Gu Kailai, and his former police chief, Wang Lijun — both of whom testified against the ex-Politburo member — came after he had denounced both as either crazy or dishonest during the proceedings.
"He was secretly in love with Gu Kailai, his emotions were tangled and he could not extricate himself," Bo told the court.
The trial is aimed at cementing Bo's political downfall and wrapping up the scandal set off by his wife's murder of a British businessman in late 2011. Prosecutors said the proceedings have shown adequate proof of Bo's guilt on charges of netting $4.3 million through bribes and embezzlement and abuse of power in interfering with the murder investigation.
"The defendant's crimes are extremely grave, and he also refuses to admit guilt. As such, the circumstances do not call for a lenient punishment but a severe one, in accordance with the law," the prosecutor said, according to a transcript of court proceedings.
Though Bo's downfall has widely been perceived as the result of his defeat in party infighting ahead of last fall's once-a-decade leadership transition, officials have taken unusual steps to portray his trial as a legitimate prosecution of his misdeeds, including the release of detailed, though presumably vetted, transcripts of the proceedings.
Bo refrained from using the trial as a stage on which to denounce the administration and the opponents who purged him. However, he mounted a vigorous defense against the criminal charges, recanting earlier confessions and rarely expressing contrition as he sought to lay the blame for most of the misdeeds on his wife and others.
In his efforts to distance himself from Gu, he admitted an affair and said the couple had been estranged at one point.
Bo was accused, among other things, of providing political favors to a businessman, Xu Ming, in return for having him at his family's beck and call. According to Bo's wife, Xu gave the family expensive gifts that included a villa in France, international airfare to three continents, abalone dinners and a Segway scooter — and Gu said Bo knew about the gifts because she told him.
Bo is also accused of funneling $800,000 in government funds from a secret project.
The court also heard allegations over the weekend that Bo abused his power as the Communist Party secretary of Chongqing to block an investigation into the Briton's murder, as well as to hide his aide's embarrassing flight to a U.S. consulate — an event that help set the scandal into motion.
On Monday, Bo repeated his doubts about the evidence presented by prosecutors while introducing a bizarre twist to the narrative. Bo said that Wang tried to defect to the consulate early last year, not in a dispute over the investigation into the Briton's murder — as was commonly understood, but because he had just confessed his feelings for Gu and feared Bo's rage over that trespass.
"He knew my personality, he'd trespassed on my family, infringed on my basic feelings, this is the real reason he decided to defect. Wang Lijun in reality is trying to muddy the waters," Bo testified.
Wang had earlier in court said he went to the Americans was that he feared for his safety after he told Bo that the politician's wife had murdered the Briton.
China's leadership is hoping to move on from the scandal to cement its authority and focus on tackling serious economic and social challenges.