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Before China's transfer of power, a would-be defector gets a 15-year sentence (+video)

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"He apparently got credit for turning against" Bo and his wife, said Dali Yang, director of the University of Chicago Center in Beijing. "The revelation against Bo Xilai provides ground for the central leadership to dismiss Bo formally and, if they choose to do so, presumably to bring criminal charges."

Debating Bo's fate is one of the issues that has delayed announcement of a National Party Congress, a pivotal event in installing the new generation of leaders. With verdicts in for Wang and Bo's wife out of the way, leaders are next expected to announce dates for the congress and for a preparatory meeting to deal with Bo.

"The lack of a date for the congress appears to be evidence still of divisions over Bo and the final leadership lineup, as well as questions of political reform and other sensitive issues," said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, head of the department of government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Bo's case is extremely sensitive because of his political pedigree and his popularity. The son of one of the communist state's founding fathers, Bo has deep connections across the party, government and military. He was one of 25 Politburo members and became popular nationwide through high-profile policies in Chongqing, including a crackdown on organized crime run with police chief Wang.

Bo seemed destined for the uppermost rung in the leadership before the scandal sidelined him in April. But his overt maneuvering for a top political job, the excesses of his and Wang's anti-mafia crusade and a publicity campaign to promote communist culture angered other leaders.

Given the leadership's ultimate control of the courts, the trials of Wang and Gu Kailai, Bo's wife, were likely part of pre-packaged arrangements that include a resolution of Bo's fate. Both Wang and Gu, who was given an effective life sentence, confessed to the crimes they were charged with, and both declined to appeal.

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