As Bo Xilai's trial ends, he accuses key witness of love triangle

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BEIJING -- The trial of purged Chinese politician Bo Xilai wound to a dramatic end Monday with Mr. Bo accusing the government's chief witness of being in love with his wife, and prosecutors demanding a stiff sentence to punish him for withdrawing his confessions.

"Bo Xilai not only denied a lot of proven evidence, but recanted his own handwritten testimony and statement," an unidentified prosecutor was quoted as saying in a transcript of the closing arguments. "He doesn't meet the standards for a reduced sentence, so should be punished severely in accordance with the law."

The 64-year-old Mr. Bo, once a contender for the Chinese leadership, embarrassed prosecutors by upstaging them at what was supposed to be a well-scripted two-day show trial. His combative courtroom antics and caustic putdowns of witnesses dragged the trial into five days and left the outcome not entirely certain.

The trial became more salacious in closing arguments, when Mr. Bo tried to discredit Wang Lijun, accusing him of courting Mr. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, according to transcripts released Monday.

Mr. Bo alleged that he had confiscated a letter that Mr. Wang had written to Gu confessing his love. Mr. Bo also contended that Mr. Wang tried to seek political asylum at a U.S. consulate because Mr. Bo had discovered the illicit relationship.

In a country where 98 percent of defendants are convicted in courts run by the Communist Party, acquittal on any of the three charges -- bribery, embezzlement and covering up a murder -- would be a major upset and an embarrassment.

China's official news media on Monday continued a barrage of criticism against Mr. Bo and praised the openness of the trial, which is being conducted in a courthouse barricaded by more than 1,000 security personnel in Jinan, 250 miles south of Beijing. Although only a handful of state journalists have been permitted in the courtroom, redacted transcripts of the proceedings are being released through the court's microblog account.

But the recent transcripts appear to be censored, with information favorable to Mr. Bo's defense and embarrassing to the Communist Party leadership omitted. Little has been released about how Mr. Wang, the former police chief in Chongqing, where Mr. Bo had been Communist Party secretary, sought political asylum in the consulate after discovering that Mr. Bo's wife was involved in the murder of Neil Heywood, an Englishman who had managed her real estate -- an incident that nearly triggered a diplomatic crisis between China and the United States.

The redacted portions of the transcript apparently suggest that Beijing's central leadership might have been involved, at least initially, in a cover-up of the burgeoning scandal.

Mr. Bo is charged with accepting more than $4 million in bribes from a tycoon, Xu Ming, including a $3.3 million villa on the French Riviera. Prosecutors conceded Monday that Mr. Bo didn't know initially about the property, which was handled by his wife, but said he should have given it back.

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