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Bo Xilai did 'massive harm' to China's Communist Party, say officials (+video)

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Reports that Bo, the "princeling" son of a revolutionary leader, could escape with a light punishment have now been dealt a fatal blow, and accusations of womanising could further tarnish his reputation in the eyes of Chinese people.

But the few weeks left before the congress will probably not allow time for a trial, said He Weifang, a law professor at Peking University who has closely followed Bo's downfall.

"I think it's quite certain that he won't be able to escape punishment under the criminal law, but the timing makes it unlikely that will happen before the congress," said He.

"I'd guess that he'll get a jail sentence of 20 years or longer. The death penalty is unlikely, although the bribery charges could in theory allow it, if the amount is as huge as they say."

At the congress, Chinese President Hu Jintao will step down as party chief, almost certainly making way for Vice President Xi Jinping to emerge as top leader. Xi is then almost sure to be appointed state president at the annual parliament session, likely in March next year.

Warning to heed example

Bo, 63, has been expelled from the party as well as the elite decision-making Politburo and Central Committee "in view of his errors and culpability in the Wang Lijun incident and the intentional homicide case involving Bogu Kailai", said the party announcement.

Bogu is his wife's official but rarely used surname.

Bo's "grave violations of party discipline" extended back to his time as an official in Dalian city and Liaoning province in northeast China, and as minister of commerce, said the statement from the Politburo.

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