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Court upholds life term for Bo Xilai

Former Chinese Politburo member Bo Xilai was convicted last month of embezzlement, bribery, and abuse of power.

Reuters TV

Former Chinese Politburo member Bo Xilai was convicted last month of embezzlement, bribery, and abuse of power.

JINAN, China — Ousted politician Bo Xilai lost his appeal of a life sentence for corruption in his final public appearance Friday before prison — an inglorious end for the once-rising star whose vaulting ambition unnerved China’s leadership.

The former Politburo member had fallen from power in a scandal that became a volatile distraction for the Communist Party, unleashing tales of murder and betrayal in the highest ranks. On Friday, two security guards with hands on his shoulders escorted him out of the courtroom — and off the political stage — ahead of a key leadership meeting next month on economic policy.

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The Shandong Provincial Higher People’s Court decision to uphold Bo’s conviction and life sentence for corruption and abuse of power came as no surprise.

Many political analysts believe Bo’s fate has been predetermined by party leaders keen to put him away long enough to prevent him from making a comeback.

However, hints of the charismatic populist’s legacy remain in the party’s renewed emphasis on connecting with the people.

Bo, a former Politburo member and party boss in Chongqing, was convicted last month of embezzlement, bribery, and abuse of power, and sentenced to life in prison.

State broadcaster CCTV showed Bo in court wearing a black jacket over a white shirt, faintly smiling as he stood flanked by two tall uniformed guards.

The court said Bo’s offenses ‘‘led to extremely severe social consequences and caused major damage to the interest of the country and the people,’’ according to the ruling, posted on the court’s website.

Bo is expected to serve his term at Qincheng Prison, north of Beijing, which houses offenders from the political elite and is plush by Chinese prison standards.

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