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China's Bo Xilai Is Given Life Sentence For Bribery, Other Crimes

A Chinese court has sentenced Bo Xilai, the former Politburo member who was snared on graft charges, to life in prison. The sentence for offenses that include bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power, completes a shocking fall for Bo, who had been a rising star in China's political system.

"Bribes received directly by Bo or via his family totaled 20.44 million yuan (about 3.3 million U.S. dollars), the court decided," reports state news agency Xinhua.

Some of the charges against Bo also accused him of obstructing an investigation into his wife's murder of a British businessman.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing:

"Judges at the court in the eastern city of Jinan rejected the vigorous defense Bo had put up at his trial last month.

"In addition to the life sentence, all of Bo's assets will be confiscated and he will be deprived of his political rights for life. That means he won't be able to hold any political office or speak to the media.

"Bo could have gotten the death penalty for his crimes, but China's judiciary is trying to use that penalty more sparingly. Bo did not indicate in court whether he would appeal the verdict. He has 10 days to do so."

In a profile for today's Weekend Edition Sunday, Anthony takes a look at the stories that have played out in Bo's trial — including a possible future bid for a return to politics.

Bo's trial began last month, with the charismatic and unpredictable former politician denying the charges and calling testimony from his wife "laughable."

The stiff penalty that was announced Sunday also comes after Bo refused to give his full cooperation to prosecutors.

"He was punished for his disobedience and defiance," Willy Lam, an expert on Communist Party politics at Chinese University in Hong Kong, tells the AP.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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