The youngest son of Bo Xilai, the former senior Communist Party official now awaiting a criminal trial, has enrolled at Columbia Law School and is expected to begin studies this fall, according to a family associate and a person from Beijing with high-level contacts.
The son, Bo Guagua, is a prominent figure in the third generation of an aristocratic Communist Party family. He earned an undergraduate degree from Oxford and a master's degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and he has been living in the United States since he completed that degree in May 2012. His exploits since his Oxford days have fascinated many Chinese, and photographs of him at parties with his arms draped around young women have circulated widely on the Internet. He was known to have driven around Cambridge, Mass., in a Porsche.
Several Harvard professors said he was serious about his studies there. Mr. Bo had been interested in pursuing a law degree in the United States even before the downfall of his father, who was removed from his position as party chief of the municipality of Chongqing in March 2012, as a scandal involving a dead British businessman unfolded. Last year, a Chinese court decided that Mr. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, would serve a suspended death sentence -- equivalent to life in prison -- for murdering the businessman, Neil Heywood.
Mr. Bo was put under house arrest in March 2012, after being dismissed from his Chongqing post, and he was later moved to a formal detention center. Last week, prosecutors in Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, charged him with bribe-taking, corruption and abuse of power. The trial is expected to take place soon.
Bo Guagua has not made any public statements since the announcement of the charges. In September 2012, he released a brief statement that said, "The father I know is upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty."
Mr. Bo did not immediately return an e-mailed request for comment on Monday.
It is unclear how Mr. Bo will pay for his three-year education at Columbia, which has one of the most expensive law schools in the United States. The law school's Web site says tuition is $55,916 for the coming academic year, and total charges are $60,234 once other fees are included. Living costs are listed as an additional $22,561. It is also unclear how Mr. Bo paid for his Oxford and Harvard tuitions, though he said in a letter last year to The Harvard Crimson that the tuition and living expenses at those universities and at Harrow, an exclusive British boarding school that he attended, were paid for through scholarships and money that his mother had earned as a lawyer.
On Monday, a Chinese journalist, Vincent Ni, posted on Twitter a photograph of a Web page from Columbia that showed Mr. Bo's e-mail address at the law school. Around the same time, the person in Beijing with high-level contacts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed Mr. Bo's enrollment at Columbia in an interview. The person said Mr. Bo had earlier explored getting a doctorate at Oxford.
Mr. Bo is the second son of Bo Xilai, who has another son, Li Wangzhi, a businessman, from his first marriage. Last fall, the first wife, Li Danyu, said in an interview that Mr. Bo had suspected their son of poisoning Ms. Gu, who is Bo Xilai's second wife and Bo Guagua's mother. One of Ms. Gu's lawyers confirmed that Ms. Gu believed that she had been poisoned.
No date has been announced for the trial of Bo Xilai, and it is unclear whether Bo Guagua will try to attend. The court is expected to deliver a verdict that has already been determined by party leaders. Political analysts said Mr. Bo could receive anything from a 15- or 20-year prison sentence to a suspended death sentence.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.