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A Chinese police chief faces secret trial (+video)

Former police chief Wang Lijun once made a name for himself arresting gangsters and politicians. Now he is in the hands of the secretive justice system he once wielded against others.

China's CCTV state television announces plans to try former police chief, Wang Lijun, at the heart of the country's biggest political scandal in decades. Sarah Sheffer reports.
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An ex-police chief at the center of China's worst political scandal in decades went on trial Monday in a closed hearing involving state secrets, his lawyer said.

Wang Lijun's trial started unexpectedly a day earlier than the court in the central city of Chengdu had announced.

Defense lawyer Wang Yuncai said the hearing examined the charges of defection and abuse of power, and those charges, shesaid, involved state secrets.

Wang, 52, fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu in February and divulged the murder of a British businessman, resulting in the removal of his boss, Bo Xilai, from the communist leadership, the conviction of Bo's wife for murder and friction amid Chinese leaders.

The hearing started at 8.30 a.m. and recessed in the afternoon, said the lawyer. "It was closed according to Chinese law because it involves state secrets," she said, declining to elaborate.

Putting Wang on trial is a next step for China's leadership in moving past the scandal and dealing with the stickiest issue: whether to expel Bo from the party and prosecute him. Proof that the scandal's fallout continues to dog Chinese leaders is that they have yet to announce a date for a party congress to install the new leadership, though it is expected in mid- to late October.

A career policeman of more than two decades, Wang made a name for himself as a gang-buster in a northeastern province, where he met Bo, then a fast-rising politician who, as the son of a revolutionary veteran, had a web of political contacts. The two rode to national fame together, launching a high-profile sweep against organized crime in Chongqing, an inland megacity where Bo had been named party chief.

At the height of his career, Wang arrested hundreds of gangsters and government officials, some of whom were sentenced and executed in a matter of months.

Most of the charges he faces carry up to 10-year prison terms though longer sentences may be given for extreme breaches.

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