Bo Xilai awaiting verdict on charges of corruption, embezzlement, abuse of power
The trial 'veered off script' with Bo's bold defense, according to many observers
Bo said his wife was bitter after she found out about an extramarital affair
The court has also heard details of the "gifts" reportedly given to the Bo family
Few political trials can boast the intoxicating mix of sex, murder and exotic meat.
But that’s exactly what the case of former political kingpin Bo Xilai offered observers in China, many of whom – more than half a million – followed proceedings on social media courtesy of court officials in the eastern city of Jinan.
It’s not clear how closely the transcripts – posted on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter – matched what happened in the courtroom, but the dramatic and often surreal detail that did emerge made for fascinating reading.
Here are five of the highlights:
1. Bo feared a woman scorned
Bo told the court he is the target of bitter payback by his wife, Gu Kailai, who is angry over an affair he had and is trying to implicate him in her shady business deals so she can avoid the death penalty.
“I feel affectionate about Gu. She’s a fragile woman, and she would be convicted to death if she’s found involved in economic crimes. Blaming it on someone else could be an easy way out,” he said. Ouch.
Gu is currently serving a suspended death sentence for murdering British businessman Neil Heywood by drugging him and pouring rat poison down his throat in a hotel room in November 2011.
2. The younger Bo likes Segways
For people who consider walking over-rated, these two-wheeled electronic bikes are a popular way to zoom around.
According to Gu, her son wanted one so she advised him to speak to wealthy businessman Xu Ming, the chairman of conglomerate the Dalian Shide Group at the time. “Ask Xu to pay for it,” Gu said, according to her own testimony. “He hasn’t given you a gift for a while. Just say this is a gift that your mum can enjoy as well.”
She mentioned that her husband, who is accused of taking bribes, knew about the gift and even tried it himself – a claim he refuted.
“I have never had any idea of who bought the scooter. No one ever spoke to me about it.”
But when the prosecutor showed Bo the scooter’s picture and asked if he’d ever seen it before, he replied: “Yes, I’ve seen it. But I had many things to worry about. How could I care about such a toy?”
3. Bo likes to fly …
The Segway was not the only mode of transport laid on by Xu, according to testimony from family aide Zhang Xiaojun. It got far more extravagant.
Zhang – who is also serving time for Heywood’s murder – said he booked numerous flights for the younger Bo to and from China, the United Kingdom and the United States, where Bo was studying. The younger Bo also went to Germany in 2006 to watch the World Cup, as well as Venice, Argentina, Cuba, Paris and Africa.
Not content with solo trips, Zhang said he also booked flights to China and hotel rooms for 40 of Bo’s friends from Harvard University around mid-March 2011. Zhang said he phoned Xu’s secretary to ask him to cover the cost of hotels in Beijing and internal flights in China. The prosecution said the cost of the trip – over 3.2 million renminbi ($524,000) – was expensed to the company account.
4. Bo was not familiar with biltong
The South African snack might not be to everyone’s taste but there are certain rules and one is that it shouldn’t be cooked.
During Friday’s proceedings, Gu told the court via video that their son, Bo Guagua, bought his father some meat as a present from Africa. “It was a large chunk of meat, of a rare species. I couldn’t remember what animal it came from,” Gu said.
Gu revealed that her son got very upset when his father insisted on steaming it.
The snapshot of mealtime at the Bo’s house set off a flurry of online speculation as to what the mysterious meat could be. After many netizens settled on biltong – a type of cured meat including beef and game – enterprising vendors listed the meat for sale online as “Guagua’s choice.” By Sunday, the ads had been pulled.
5. Some Chinese policeman are tall
Before some of the more intriguing details of trial emerged, the stature of the policemen guarding Bo became a subject of fevered online speculation.
Where on earth did Chinese officials find officers tall enough to tower over Bo, who himself stands over six foot?
That mystery remains unsolved.
CNN’s David McKenzie and Dayu Zhang contributed to this report.