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China court to issue Bo Xilai appeal decision on October 25

Disgraced politician Bo Xilai is flanked by police side the courtroom in the Chinese city of Jinan, on September 22, 2013
Fallen Chinese Communist Party star Bo Xilai stands handcuffed in a courtroom flanked by police in Jinan, Shandong, China on September 22, 2013

A Chinese court will rule Friday on the appeal of the once-powerful politician Bo Xilai, it announced on Monday, another step towards closing a scandal that rocked the ruling party.

Bo -- formerly one of the country's top 25 leaders, who ran the southwestern megacity of Chongqing -- was sentenced to life in prison in September by the Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province.

The Shandong high court said on its website it will "issue a decision regarding the bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power case of the appellant Bo Xilai".

Appeals in such high-profile cases are almost unheard of in Chinese courts, which are tightly controlled by the Communist party. Analysts have said the appeal is unlikely to succeed.

The murder and corruption scandal surrounding Bo erupted in February 2012 and shook the ruling party, which prizes consensus and stability.

The affair saw Bo's wife Gu Kailai jailed last year for murdering a British associate. Bo's top aide Wang Lijun -- who fled to a US consulate, reportedly seeking asylum -- was also imprisoned for covering up her involvement in the death, among other offences.

Bo's sensational five-day trial in August offered a rare peek into the family life and dealings of a top official, exposing bribes, murder and illicit love at the highest levels of power.

It was peppered with colourful references to stashes of cash in a family safe, and gifts of rare and mysterious African meats.

Bo had won popularity as an open and charismatic figure -- unusual among Chinese politicians.

But he also generated controversy with his open ambition and support for a Maoist revival, urging people to sing "red songs".

Bo was unusually outspoken as a defendant in a Chinese court. Among many spirited arguments at his trial, he dismissed his wife as insane and Wang as being in love with her.

When a prosecution witness said he heard Bo discuss embezzlement by phone, Bo rejected the claim by saying: "It is not even what the most stupid corruption offender would do."

He denied the charges against him and submitted an appeal to the Shandong high court after the verdict and sentence.

He also told his family in a letter he would "wait quietly in the prison" until "one day" his name was cleared, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

"My father was jailed many times. I will follow his footsteps," he was cited as writing.

Bo's father, the celebrated revolutionary hero Bo Yibo, suffered in prison during China's tumultuous 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, but refused to admit wrongdoing.

Earlier high-profile corruption cases have ended after the initial conviction, including those of both Gu and Wang, who admitted the charges against them.

The former mayor of China's commercial capital Shanghai, Chen Liangyu, opted not to appeal after being sentenced in 2008 to 18 years in prison.

Ex-Beijing mayor Chen Xitong appealed against a 16-year jail sentence, but it was rejected.

State media have cast Bo's trial as proof that the country abides by the rule of law and that party leaders are serious about a widely trumpeted pledge to crack down on official corruption.

But the scale of corruption raised in Bo's trial -- 27 million yuan ($4.4 million) -- was paltry compared to the immense wealth associated with the highest levels of power.

A mere county official in the southern province of Guangdong was found last year to own 22 properties worth as much as 40 million yuan ($6.6 million).

By contrast, Bloomberg reported that President Xi Jinping's family had investments worth $376 million, while the New York Times said relatives of former premier Wen Jiabao had controlled assets worth $2.7 billion.

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