Bo Xilai, the disgraced former Chinese politician accused of using his influence within the Communist Party to cover up a murder carried out by his wife, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison on Sunday for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. The Jinan Intermediate People’s Court's decision didn't surprise the case's observers, The New York Times reports, because Chinese media were forecasting the guilty verdict. "Party insiders said the harsh sentence is certain to have been decided by China's leadership in an attempt to bring an end to the scandal surrounding Mr. Bo," the Wall Street Journal's Jeremy Page reports. Bo's life sentence means he likely won't return to the public eye despite his old standing in the powerful Communist party.
His wife, Gu Kailai, was sentenced to a suspended death sentence -- the equivalent of a life in prison sentence -- last year for murdering British national Neil Heywood. Through the long and arduous trial that captured the nation's attention, Bo was accused of taking lavish bribes as rising political star, cheating on his wife, and using his influence to cover up his wife's murder.
Bo still maintains his innocence and plans to appeal the verdict. (Few observers think an appeal will succeed, though.) In a letter that circulated among Chinese party officials and Bo defenders, leaked to the South China Morning Post, Bo compared himself to his father who was jailed twice by enemies and still went on to a successful career in politics. "I will wait quietly in the prison," the former Communist Party star said. "My father was jailed many times. I will follow his footsteps."