Mr. and Ms. Bergman have said little about how their company ended up as part of China’s trial of the decade. Ms. Bergman told an interviewer this summer that they held shares of the villa in trust after being approached by what she called a “reputable intermediary” that she refused to name. She said they never knew who the real owner of the villa was.
In an e-mail exchange with The Globe and Mail this week, Ms. Bergman declined to explain how her company ended up purchasing property on behalf of Mr. Bo’s family. ”We have nothing further to help you in your research,” she wrote.
Even if Mr. Bo himself vanishes from view – a prospect that is not at all clear, given the strong likelihood his sentence will be reduced for medical or other reasons – there may be reason for the ruling elite to fear the shadow he leaves behind, Mr. Moses warned. “We should not ignore the possibility that the end of Bo’s legal options could be the beginning of him being seen as a martyr to those who are dismayed at the inequalities they see as still dominant in China,” he said.
Indeed, some of China’s legal leaders noted that Mr. Bo should have been afforded the chance to make his case publicly at appeal. But his provocative defence at his first trial made official China “very embarrassed,” said human rights lawyer Li Fangping. He was subsequently muted so he could not “take advantage of the chance to win back influence and gain more support, which would run counter to [Communist Party] expectations.”
Pu Zhiqiang, another prominent civil rights lawyer, added: “Anyone who says Bo’s case was tried independently knows nothing about China.”
Still, Mr. Bo’s own fate is unlikely to be one of pain and suffering. His sentence is likely to be served at Qincheng, a secretive prison for the political elite north of Beijing. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, it was likened to a “five-star hotel” by Bao Tong, a former policy secretary who served seven years there after standing against the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Beijing media have described conditions at Qincheng that include luxuries rarely afforded inmates, such as milk at breakfast, regular freedom to walk the grounds alone and the ability to wear clothing provided by family.
Mr. Bo serving time there also has a discomfiting historical ring to it. It’s the same prison where his father was sent for a time during the Cultural Revolution.