The former police chief who triggered a dramatic political upheaval in China, toppling his former patron Bo Xilai, will go on trial on Tuesday morning for defection, abuse of power and other offences.
Wang Lijun, the vice mayor of Chongqing, in south-west China, fled to the US consulate in Chengdu in February.
He told diplomats that he believed Bo's wife Gu Kailai had poisoned British businessman Neil Heywood - a death that had up until then been ascribed to excessive alcohol consumption. Gu was convicted of Heywood's murder last month and handed a suspended death sentence.
A spokesman at Chengdu Intermediate People's Court confirmed Wang's
case would be heard on Tuesday, adding: "We will release news [about
the trial] in a timely manner."
The case comes weeks before a once-a-decade leadership transition is expected to take place, and takes the party one step closer to drawing a line under the country's biggest political scandal for decades.
The announcement of Wang's indictment did not mention Bo, the former Chongqing party secretary. But officials say the charges against him are striking because they relate to his actions in office and therefore raise questions about his former boss's behaviour.
According to state news agency Xinhua, prosecutors have charged Wang with "bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking", adding that the evidence was "concrete and abundant".
Bo had hired Wang, who had a reputation as a gang-busting policeman, to spearhead a dramatic crackdown on organised crime. But critics said the campaign trampled over the law and resulted in widespread abuses.
The politician, who some thought might win promotion in this year's leadership crackdown, has not been seen since March, when authorities said he was under investigation for unspecified disciplinary offences.
While some analysts think the party's leaders will prefer to deal with Bo using internal mechanisms, others suggest the charges against Wang are a hint that he could yet face a criminal trial.
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