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Chinese Politician Goes On Trial For Alleged Corruption, Abuse Of Power

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Bo Xilai

Bo Xilai

High-profile Chinese politician Bo Xilai has denied the first of the allegations made against him by the government as he goes on trial for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

Bo entered the courthouse under police escort in the eastern city of Jinan on Thursday, court officials said, in closely choreographed proceedings held under tight security.

Police officers were seen sealing off nearby roads with red and yellow barriers and bundling onlookers into a minivan.

As he entered the courthouse, he said that he hoped for “a fair and just trial in accordance with [Chinese] law”, reported Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, who was outside the courthouse.

Once proceedings got underway, Bo denied one of the bribery charges, alleging that he had “once admitted against [his] will” while being investigated by authorities, and called testimony made by his wife that implicates him “laughable”.

Bo’s trial will last for two days and the verdict is likely to be in early September. Court spokesman Liu Yanjie said Bo was “emotionally stable and physically healthy” during the trial.

The politician became the most senior leader to fall from power in years after revelations emerged that his wife had killed a British businessman, Neil Heywood.

The scandal was triggered last year when Bo’s police chief, a top aide, fled to a US consulate in a neighbouring city last year, an event that embarrassed the party’s leadership ahead of a key political transition.

It would later emerge that the police chief had evidence of Heywood’s murder, making the Bo family an international diplomatic liability for the leadership.

Bo was charged with receiving about 21.8 million yuan ($3.56 million) in bribes from Xu Ming, a plastics-to-property entrepreneur who is a close friend and is in custody, and Tang Xiaolin, the general manager of Hong Kong-based export company Dalian International Development Ltd, the court said. He is also alleged to have embezzled 5 million yuan ($817,000) from a government project in Dalian during his tenure as mayor there.

In denying any wrongdoing in case involving Tang, Bo called the businessman “a mad dog” who wanted to “frame me out of consideration for his own interests”.

“This evidence has little to do with my criminality,” Bo said. “I was just hoodwinked. I thought it was all official business.”

Chinese authorities have released few details of the charges Bo faces, but analysts say they appear calibrated to lay blame on Bo’s individual actions and end his political career, while avoiding allegations that could expose the impunity with which top Chinese officials are believed to operate before they fall from favour.

A person with direct knowledge of the case has said Bo is accused of accepting bribes amounting to more than $3.3m and embezzling $820,000 while he was in the eastern city of Dalian.

The abuse of power allegation is related to his alleged attempts to block an investigation into the murder by his wife in late 2011 and his sacking of his police chief, reports say. [AlJazeera]

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JUST IN: ECOWAS Lifts Sanctions On Mali

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ECOWAS countries
ECOWAS Countries

ECOWAS Countries

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US President, Donald Trump, Wife Test Positive For Covid-19

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Donald Trump and Melania
Donald Trump and Melania

Donald Trump and wife, Melania Trump

President of the United States, Donald Trump, and his wife, Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19.

The President took to his official Twitter handle on Friday to make this announcement.

Trump was last seen in public on Thursday afternoon, returning to the White House after a fundraising trip to New Jersey.

Also Read: What I Told Trump When He Accused Me Of Killing Christians – Buhari

On Thursday, he announced that his aide, Hope Hicks tested positive for the virus which has killed over 1 million people around the world.

He further revealed that he and the first lady had taken the test and waiting for the results before announcing the outcome on Friday.

 

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Mali: N’Daw, Coup Leader Goita Sworn In As President, VP

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President of Mali, N'Daw, coup leader, Goita
President of Mali, N'Daw, coup leader, Goita

President of Mali, N’Daw, coup leader, Goita

Retired Army Colonel, Bah N’Daw has been sworn in on Friday as the interim president of Mali and he is to head a transitional government following last month’s military coup in the country.

The swearing-in ceremony held in the country’s capital city of Bamako, where Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the military junta, was also sworn in as interim vice president.

This administration is to lead the government for a maximum of 18 months before organising national elections.

Also Read: Buhari Attends Virtual ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit Over Mali Crisis

It will be recalled that the country’s military executed a coup last month (August 18) which successfully removed the nation’s president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita from office.

Former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, attended the ceremony alongside other members of the ECOWAS mediation team.

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