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China

Bo Xilai mocks testimony but admits partial responsibility

Details surrounding embezzlement charges have emerged in the high-profile trial of Bo Xilai. The ex-Communist Party star has grown vocal during the proceedings, dismissing witness testimony as ludicrous and unreliable.

The trial of Bo Xilai entered an unexpected third day on Saturday, featuring another spirited performance from the defendant whose political career ended abruptly in early 2012 with a murder scandal. The court heard further testimony about embezzlement charges against Bo, for which he admitted partial responsibility.

According to Bo, his wife had taken five million yuan ($800,000; 597,932 euros) of public funds without his knowledge after learning he had had an affair. She then moved to the United Kingdom with their son.

"I am ashamed of it. I was too careless, because this is public money," Bo told the Jinan Intermediate People's Court. "I failed to retrieve the money later, and that's a factual statement, but can you say I had the intention to embezzle the money? No."

The court released information about the proceedings via its feed on Chinese microblog Sina Weibo.

Bo last served as party boss in the southwest metropolis of Chongqing until a scandal involving the death of British businessman Neil Heywood forced his removal from power in 2012 and landed him in police custody on charges of covering up a murder and abuse of power. He also faces charges of corruption and embezzlement.

Despite enjoying public popularity during his time in office, Bo reportedly lost favor within the party for his handling of Heywood's murder. Local police chief, Wang Lijun, singled out Bo's wife - Gu Kailai - as a suspect in the case. Rather than reporting the incident to Beijing, Bo opted to sack the police chief, who then drew attention to the scandal by fleeing to the US Consulate in Chengdu and applying for asylum.

Testimony 'implausible'

The prosecution presented witness Wang Zhengang to counter the defendant's claim. Zhengang served as an official in the land planning department in the northeast port city of Dalian, where Bo served as mayor during the time of the alleged embezzlement.

Wang told the court Bo had told his wife about funneling the money in a phone call.

Bo dismissed the logic behind the testimony: "It is not even what the most stupid corruption offender would do," he said.

"Is this in line with the way an embezzler would think? Would I say something this sensitive on the phone?," Bo added.

During his trial, he has remained obstinate to charges, which include allegations of accepting bribes worth up to $3.5 million (20.7 million yuan; 2.6 million euros) in the form of gifts.

Bo has denied not only the charges brought against him, but has openly criticized witnesses, including his wife, whom he has characterized as "crazy" and unreliable given her guilt in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The trial is expected to next address Bo's involvement in the murder scandal that led to his wife's conviction in 2012.

kms/ng (AP, AFP)