BEIJING: China's most famous mafia-slaying police chief has been charged with a bevy of crimes including defecting to an American consulate earlier this year.
Wang Lijun's frantic escape from his former patron, the then Chongqing Party boss Bo Xilai, triggered the most significant upheaval to hit Chinese elite politics in two decades.
His testimony to US diplomats in Chengdu on February 6, and then Chinese officials in Beijing, directly led to Mr Bo being toppled from his Chongqing post in March and suspended from the Politburo in April.
Mr Wang's dramatic testimony also led to Mr Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, being convicted last month of murdering an English family friend, Neil Heywood, by pouring a cyanide concoction down his throat.
Mr Wang has been "charged with bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking", according to the official Xinhua news agency.
"Prosecutors said Wang, while he was performing his official duty, left his post without authorisation and defected to the United States Consulate General in Chengdu," it said.
Xinhua said Mr Wang showed favouritism to shield Gu from investigation.
Mr Bo had been angling to take over a powerful post in charge of the nation's security system at the 18th Party Congress, according to senior sources in the security apparatus.
The factional and ideological reverberations of Mr Bo's demise are still being felt just months ahead of a crucial leadership transition widely expected to take place in mid-October.
The trial, expected to be held imminently in in the Chengdu People's Intermediate Court, promises to be at least as sensitive and consequential as the Gu Kailai murder trial because of links that may be drawn with his patron, Mr Bo.
Mr Bo, who continues to enjoy rare popularity among sections of the public and within the Party, is tipped to soon be formally stripped of his Party membership. Such a move would pave the way for the 18th Party Congress next month and possibly criminal charges against Mr Bo next year.