Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai could soon face court trial following revelation of details this week that he knew of the murder committed by his wife, Gu Kailai, but elected not to do anything.
China's official news agency, Xinhua, said earlier this week that Mr Bo, who headed the Communist Party in Chongqing, one of the country's key cities, was briefed by Wang Lijun on what really happened to British businessman Neil Heywood.
Mr Bo's former police chief, Xinhua said, had informed him on January 2012 that Mr Heywood did not die of heart failure on November 2011, as earlier declared by local authorities.
The English national was actually poisoned and Ms Gu was a prime suspect of the police investigation, Mr Wang reportedly told his former boss.
The revelation, according to Xinhua, angered "the then leading party official of Chongqing," who at that time was Mr Bo.
"On the morning of January 29, Wang Lijun was angrily rebuked and slapped in the face by the official," the Xinhua report was quoted by Fairfax as saying on Friday.
In the ensuing events, Mr Wang was fired from his post and sought asylum in the U.S. consulate in Chengdu while Mr Bo was sacked as party chief of Chongqing and his wife arrested in March 2012.
Ms Gu was tried and given a suspended death sentence in August, which analysts said will likely be commuted to a prison term no longer than 12 years.
On the other hand, Mr Wang, who once moved in the inner circles of Mr Bo and Ms Gu, is being tried by a Chinese court for bribery, defection to a foreign government and other cases.
The latest development in the ongoing controversy, in which details of the murder case directly implicating Mr Bo, signals the likelihood that top-level Chinese officials have given the go signal to prosecute their former comrade, analysts said.
The only question, they added, is how actually the still popular Mr Bo will be treated.
According to Agence France Presse (AFP), Mr Bo is likely to be charged of sheltering a criminal that in China is punishable by 10-year imprisonment.
"I think there will be criminal proceedings . . . now that the charge of covering up a murder has been confirmed," People's University in Beijing professor Zhang Ming told AFP.
But owing to his stature and how the people still regard him, Mr Bo's prosecution would be a mere slap on the wrist when compared to the harsher punishments earlier meted out to erring members of the Chinese Politburo, Mr Zhang added.
"I don't think there will be any additional charges. I expect he'll get a prison sentence of about 10 years," the Beijing university professor said.
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