The flamboyant son of China's fallen political star Bo Xilai has spoken out in his father's defense but some analysts say the move may be aimed at mitigating any harsh sentence to be imposed on the senior Bo.
Bo Guagua, the Harvard-educated son of Bo and Gu Kailai, said the accusations of bribery and sexual misconduct leveled against his father by the ruling Chinese Communist Party were "hard to believe."
"Personally, it is hard for me to believe the allegations that were announced against my father, because they contradict everything I have come to know about him throughout my life," he said via the microblogging site Tumblr at the weekend.
"Although the policies my father enacted are open to debate, the father I know is upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty," he wrote, later confirming that he was the author of the post.
The Communist Party on Friday expelled Bo Xilai from its ranks, saying criminal proceedings against him would follow, and that he was "responsible" for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
Gu was handed a suspended death sentence in August for Heywood's murder.
The Party Central Committee said Bo's case would now be handed over to law enforcement agencies after he was stripped of Party membership and formally removed from his public posts at a meeting in Beijing on Friday, official media reported.
'Part of the elite'
Bo Guagua, 24, who is now believed to be living a low-profile life in the United States since graduating from Harvard University in May with a master's degree in public policy, has been reticent about his parents' involvement in the biggest political scandal to hit Chinese politics in more than two decades.
U.K. newspapers have portrayed him as a hard-partying member of the Chinese elite, at home among the sons and daughters of the very rich, and have detailed his reported antics while he was being educated at Harrow and Oxford, where he was reportedly suspended for failing to study hard enough.
Li Xiaobing, director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, said Bo's statement seemed to be aimed at public opinion in the West, rather than inside China.
"He is doing everything he can to try to ensure that his father doesn't receive too harsh a sentence," Li said.
Analysts and rights activists said the courts would likely come down heavily on Bo Xilai, the "princeling" son of revolutionary veteran Bo Yibo, for rocking the highest echelons of leadership.
The Bo scandal has exposed to public view rifts within the secretive Communist Party, highlighting tensions between Bo's populist, left-wing policies and the supporters of Chinese President Hu Jintao and leader-in-waiting and current vice-president Xi Jinping, ahead of the crucial leadership transition in November.
Professor Xia Ming, political science teacher at the College of Staten Island in New York, said Bo Guagua's statement was likely sincere.
"Bo Xilai's life has been lived in the corridors of power, and I'm sure it's safe to say he has lofty ambitions," Xia said. But he said neither father nor son saw themselves as regular people subject to the same standards as others.
"Both Bo Xilai and Bo Guagua are used to thinking of themselves as part of the elite, that is bred to rule others," he said.
Hangzhou-based veteran journalist and blogger Zan Aizong said that the Bo Xilai scandal wasn't exposed using mechanisms that are supposed to supervise powerful officials, however.
"It wasn't [uncovered through investigation]," Zan said. "It only got out because of Wang Lijun unexpectedly visiting the U.S. consulate in Chengdu."
Wang, Bo's former right-hand man and police chief was jailed for 15 years by a court in southwest China last week.
Wang visited the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu in February and reportedly told U.S. officials that Gu was a murder suspect and that Bo had exploded angrily and demoted him when Wang brought the subject up.
"There is so much corruption in China, but yet none of the supervisory bodies are any use against it," Zan said.
Behind closed doors
Retired Shandong University professor Sun Wenguang said the trials of Gu, Wang, and Bo should all be carried out with complete transparency, but instead, had been shaped by behind-closed-doors decisions and secret hearings.
"Bo Xilai's case should be open and transparent," he said. "But it has been carried out in secret."
"They could easily publish details of property held by officials, but they don't do it."
Bo Xilai "seriously violated" Party discipline during his tenure as Commerce Minister, as Party secretary of the northeastern port city of Dalian, and, most recently, in the southwestern megacity of Chongqing, Xinhua news agency said on Friday.
Bo took advantage of his office to seek profits for others and received huge bribes personally and through his family, Xinhua said.
The Party Central Committee had heard how Bo's powerful position was also abused by Gu, the agency said.
"The Bo family accepted a huge amount of money and property from others," it said, adding that "Bo had or maintained improper sexual relationships with a number of women."
The evidence also suggested his involvement in dubious personnel decisions and in "other crimes," Xinhua reported.
"Bo's behaviors have yielded serious consequences, badly undermined the reputation of the Party and the country, created very negative impacts at home and abroad, and significantly damaged the cause of the Party and the people," the Central Committee concluded.
Bo's detractors say he and Wang waged a campaign of terror in Chongqing, using their "strike black" anti-crime campaigns to target innocent businessmen and confiscate their assets. Lawyers linked to the campaigns have described torture and forced confessions as commonplace during Bo's tenure there.
Bo was removed from his post in Chongqing, where he had been regarded as a top contender for a seat on the all-powerful standing committee of the Politburo, on March 15, shortly after a strongly worded warning from premier Wen Jiabao that a failure to enact political reform in China could see a return to the turmoil and violence of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
Reported by Yang Jiadai and Gao Shan for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.