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China opens trial for former police chief in political scandal

CHENGDU, China — The trial of a former police chief who was a key player in the fall of the politician Bo Xilai began in secret on Monday in this southwestern provincial capital, where he attempted to seek refuge in a United States consulate in February.

His attempt, the first of its kind in many years, ignited China’s biggest political scandal in a generation.

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The session was secret because the two charges against the officer, Wang Lijun, that were presented in court Monday — defection and abuse of power, which in this case centers on illegal surveillance — involve state secrets, according to one of his lawyers, Wang Yuncai.

Wang Yuncai, who attended the opening session, said a public hearing would take place Tuesday in which the two remaining charges, accepting bribes and bending the law for one’s personal gain, would be reviewed.

A person with police contacts in Chongqing, where Wang was police chief, confirmed that the trial would last two days.

People briefed on Wang’s case said the trial would allow the state to lay out his alleged role in the ostentatious and overbearing governance of Chongqing by Bo, a Communist Party aristocrat who was suspended from the Politburo this spring and has been under investigation. Bo has not been seen in public since March.

The outcome of trials in China, especially those connected to elite politicians, is often predetermined. The flamboyant Wang, 52, is expected to be found guilty on all four charges.

“Wang Lijun will be facing a long prison term for the fact that what he did in February has tarnished the image of the party,’’ said another person in Chongqing with ties to police officials, predicting a sentence of life in prison.

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