Trial ends for ex-police chief in China scandal

Associated Press
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UPDATING THE CAPTION WHEN THE TRIAL STARTED - Chinese people play cards on the pavement near the Chengdu Intermediate People's Court in Chengdu in southwest China's Sichuan province Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. The trial of Wang Lijun, an ex-police chief at the center of China's worst political scandal in decades, started unexpectedly at the court Monday, a day earlier than the court had announced. At the height of his career, Wang led a police crackdown on the violent underworld in a sprawling metropolis, arresting hundreds of gangsters and government officials, some of whom were sentenced and executed in a matter of months. Now the former police chief is in the hands of the opaque Chinese justice he once brandished against others. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

CHENGDU, China (AP) — The trial of an ex-police chief at the center of a lurid, divisive political scandal ended Tuesday, bringing China's leadership closer to resolving a case that exposed seamy infighting and buffeted a delicate transfer of power to new leaders.

The Intermediate Court in in the central city of Chengdu did not issue a verdict following the two half-day sessions in which it heard charges that Wang Lijun tried to defect, abused his power, took bribes and ignored the laws. Wang's lawyer declined comment other than to confirm the trial had concluded.

The most explosive charges against Wang — defection and abuse of power — were heard in a closed-door hearing Monday and were connected to his unexpected visit to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu in February, which triggered the scandal. During a 33-hour stay, Wang disclosed that a British businessman found dead in November had been murdered and that the wife of his boss, senior politician Bo Xilai, was involved.

The move led to Bo's ouster from the communist leadership and his wife's conviction for murder, while consuming Chinese leaders' energies just as they were engaging in tricky back-channel politicking to choose the country's next generation of leaders.

Wang's trial clears the way for the leadership to deal with the scandal's stickiest issue: whether to expel Bo from the party and prosecute him. China's leaders appear to still be in damage-control mode, and they have yet to announce a date for a party congress to install the new leadership, though it is expected in mid- to late October.