The maverick Chinese leader Bo Xilai opened the final act of his trial with bitter words for the police chief who brought him down, calling him "treasonous", "despicable" and "full of lies".
The court was told that Wang Lijun had once sworn such loyalty that he would stand up at Bo's command even if he was lying on his death bed.
For years, Wang visited Bo's home every day, not only helping him to maintain an iron rule over the city of Chongqing, but attending to his wife's demands and keeping a safe watch over their 25-year-old son, Bo Guagua.
But the collapse of their relationship destroyed both men. Wang has already been sentenced to 15 years in prison and Bo, who's trial on corruption charges in the city of Jinan ended yesterday, could get an even harsher punishment, Chinese lawyers said.
While there was clear evidence for the first time that the court transcripts were being carefully edited, the testimony revealed the moments leading up to Wang's flight, in apparent fear for his life, to seek the protection of the United States consulate.
First the court heard that Bo had hit his police chief so hard that his eardrum perforated. Then he fired him and tried to block investigators from discovering that his wife, Gu Kailai, had murdered Neil Heywood, a British friend of the family, Wang said.
When Wang then fled, Bo's wife - who was subsequently given a suspended death sentence for murdering Heywood - tried to have the police chief certified as insane. The false medical certificate, shown to the court, said Wang had received daily psychiatric treatment in a hospital under the name Hong Tiejun, literally Iron Army Hong.
"He had mentioned many times the great pressure of work and that he struggled to sleep more than two to three hours every day and was always nervous, not even daring to turn off the light while he sleeps," the fake document said.
"The doctor found the patient to be slow-thinking, always illogical, prone to anger and hysteria and extremely emotionally unstable. He once considered suicide and our team believe he needed treatment."
The ploy to have Wang certified was just one way in which Bo had abused his power, the prosecution said.
Bo dismissed the evidence out of hand. "I knew absolutely nothing about it," he said. "Wang Lijun's testimony is full of lies, it is neither reliable or credible. He said I punched him. I am not a boxer, I do not have that kind of power."
He added that since Wang had already been convicted of treason and abusing his power, he was a "despicable" person who was trying to "sow confusion" in court.
Bo said that while the evidence against him had been painstakingly collected, "the parts that are being quoted have been cherry-picked".
Call for hard punishment
A prosecutor urged a Chinese court to punish disgraced politician Bo Xilai with a severe sentence because of his lack of remorse over alleged corruption and abuse of power.
"The defendant's crimes are extremely grave, and he also refuses to admit guilt. As such, the circumstances do not call for a lenient punishment but a severe one, in accordance with the law," the prosecutor said.
The trial has ended and the Intermediate People's Court will "announce the verdict at a date to be decided", it said.
In a rare show of openness, the court publicised presumably pre-vetted details of the proceedings in a bid to lend credibility to what is widely seen as a political show trial. Bo has refrained from using the trial as a stage on which to denounce the Administration and his opponents.
"So far, the worst has been avoided," said Ding Xueliang, a Chinese politics expert at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. "He does not talk about politically sensitive things, even though everybody ... knows that he's in trouble for politics."
Historian Zhang Lifan said: "People tend to sympathise with those who are being attacked by the authorities, so he's been able to portray himself as a victim."
- AP, AFP