30 October 2012

Bo News is Good News™: More Likely Trial Scenarios

In my last post, I argued that the fact that the criminal investigation against Bo Xilai was being handled by the Supreme People's Procuratorate suggested that his case might be tried in first instance by the Supreme People's Court. While that is still theoretically a possibility, an acquaintance has kindly pointed out to me that the Supreme People's Procuratorate also handled the investigation in the corruption case of former Shanghai party secretary and Politburo member Chen Liangyu, and it appears that the same was likely true in the case of former Beijing party secretary and Politburo member Chen Xitong.

In each of these previous corruption cases, after initial investigation was completed by the SPP, the cases were eventually handed over to provincial-level procuratorates for prosecution. Chen Xitong's case was handed over to the Beijing procuratorate, and the SPP handed over Chen Liangyu's case to prosecutors in Tianjin. (Both Beijing and Tianjin, as directly-administered municipalities, are considered to hold positions in the administrative hierarchy of places equivalent to a province or autonomous region.)

So, the most likely outcome for Bo is probably the same: his case will be transferred to a provincial procuratorate. There is, however, one final question regarding jurisdiction. The trial of Chen Xitong was heard by the Beijing High People's Court (i.e., at the provincial level), which meant that his appeal was heard by the SPC. In Chen Liangyu's case, the trial took place one step lower, at the level of the intermediate court. At which level will Bo's case be heard? My guess would be a provincial high court somewhere, but my track record's not great when it comes to predictions.

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