Ex-cop in China admits to defection

Ex-cop in China admits to defection

A former police chief at the center of China’s biggest political scandal in decades admitted attempting to defect to the United States, and did not contest charges of bribery and illegal surveillance at his trial on Tuesday, a court official said.

Wang Lijun, ex-police chief of southwestern Chongqing municipality, sought to conceal the murder of a British businessman by the wife of one of the nation's most senior and ambitious politicians, Bo Xilai, according to an official account of the trial.

But prosecutors acknowledged that Wang’s cooperation was central to cracking the murder case and exposing leads to major crimes committed by unnamed others, indicating he will likely get a lenient sentence when the verdict is announced in about 10 days.

“The accused Wang Lijun voluntarily gave himself up after committing the crime of defection, and then gave a truthful account of the main crimes involved in his defection,” court spokesman Yang Yuquan said, referring to Wang’s dramatic flight to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February.

Wang “exposed leads concerning major criminal offences by others, and played an important role in investigating and dealing with the cases concerned,” Yang said. “According to law, his punishment may be reduced.”

The charges against Wang carry sentences ranging from a lengthy jail term to the death penalty. Foreign reporters were barred from attending the trial amid tight security around the courthouse on a busy Chengdu street, and instead were briefed by a court official at a nearby hotel.