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China seals fate of disgraced politician Bo Xilai ahead of key leadership congress

How Hwee Young / EPA

Bo Xilai, who had been a candidate for top office in China until caught up in a scandal that included a murder, will face charges for abuse of power, bribe taking and improper relations with a number of women.

BEIJING - China's ruling Communist Party accused disgraced politician Bo Xilai of abusing power, taking huge bribes and other crimes on Friday, sealing the fate of a controversial figure whose fall shook the country's looming leadership succession.

The once high-flying Bo faces a criminal investigation and will almost certainly end up in jail.

"Bo Xilai's actions created grave repercussions and did massive harm to the reputation of the party and state, producing an extremely malign effect at home and abroad," the official statement from a party leaders' meeting said, according to a report by the official Xinhua news agency

The Politburo statement also said that Bo took huge amounts of bribes directly or through his family and that he "maintained illicit relationships with numerous females." 

The criticisms and allegations against Bo amount to throwing the book at him: The wide-ranging charges go back more than a decade to when he was mayor of Dalian and continue through his removal as Chongqing party secretary in March. 

The Politburo panel said that the 18th Party Congress would begin on Nov. 8, paving the way for a once-a-decade leadership change at the highest levels of the Communist party. 

The 204-member Central Committee, a cross-section of the national party elite, usually convenes about a week before the congress to approve decisions already made by the Politburo. Privately, the committee will also approve the incoming leaders and a policy blueprint for the next five years. 

China closes in on Bo Xilai after jailing ex-police chief

The congress had been expected to take place in mid-October, though the preparations were overshadowed by the Bo scandal, China's biggest in a decade. 

The late start -- relative to past party congresses -- could allow for Bo to be dealt with before the congress starts and give the next generation of leaders a relatively clean political slate to work from.

China's most politically explosive trial wrapped in a matter of hours when Gu Kailai, the wife of Chinese politician Bo Xilai, did not object to murder charges against her. ITV's Angus Walker reports.

The scandal was set off when a trusted Bo aide disclosed that Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered a British businessman.

Bo was sacked as party chief of the city of Chongqing; Gu Kailai was given a suspended death sentence after confessing to the murder; and the aide, Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, received a 15-year prison term for initially covering up the murder and other misdeeds. 

The official statement also said that Bo had been expelled from the party as well as the elite, decision-making Politburo and Central Committee "in view of his errors and culpability in the Wang Lijun incident and the intentional homicide case involving Bogu Kailai." Bogu is his wife Gu Kailai's official but rarely used surname.

Wang Lijun, the Chinese police chief who exposed the murder of a British business man, has been sentenced to 15 years in jail after being found guilty of abuse of power, bribery and defection

It was not immediately clear what was meant by the reference to Bo's responsibility in the murder, although the abuse of power charges against Bo could be related to obstruction of justice in the case.

It was the first direct mention of Bo in state media in months. His name was not mentioned for both Gu's and Wang's trials. 

The end of those trials cleared the way for the party to decide whether to charge Bo with criminal wrongdoing.

The wife of a disgraced Chinese politician has been given a suspended death sentence for her role in the death of British businessman, Neil Heywood.  ITV's Angus Walker reports.

Bo's ouster from the leadership early this year opened a window into the divisive jostling for power that took place as president and party leader Hu Jintao prepared to retire to make way for younger leaders. 

After wife's conviction, what next for Bo Xilai?

The government is grappling with a rapidly slowing economy and a bitter territorial dispute with Japan that has sparked violent street protests and is having an impact on trade ties.

Labor unrest, a growing urban middle class, and anger over corruption and illegal land seizures are fueling demands for reform.

NBC News' Ed Flanagan, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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