The high court in eastern China's Shandong province has rejected ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai's final appeal, upholding his life sentence on charges of bribery, corruption and abuse of power.
Bo, the former Communist Party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing and once a rising star in China's leadership circles who had cultivated a following through his populist, quasi-Maoist policies, was jailed for life in September after a dramatic fall from grace that shook the ruling Communist Party.
His career was stopped short last year by a murder scandal in which his wife, Gu Kailai, was convicted of poisoning a British businessman, Neil Heywood, who had been a family friend.
The appeal was held behind closed doors and completed less than a month after being lodged, when it could theoretically have take up to two months, or longer.
The ruling Communist Party faces difficulty in trying to both convince skeptics that Bo's fall was not simply the result of elite infighting, and show the country that Beijing is serious about fighting graft.
Beijing-based political analyst Zhang Ming had said Bo's case was a political one and had little to do with corruption.
He believed that Bo's failed appeal could sharpen rifts in a society already divided about his fate.
"We know that after this hearing that for the time being, there will be nothing more on (Bo Xilai's) case. It's difficult for this kind of hearing to make Bo supporters happy and convinced, so there's a rift. There's a social rift, a rift in public opinion, as there's still a Bo Xilai audience out there. This foreshadows a change in China's politics," he said.
Bo's appeal against the guilty verdict was unlikely to have been successful. Despite Bo's feisty defence during his trial, he was pronounced guilty long ago since China's courts are controlled by the Communist Party.
The party and state media have presented the Bo case as an example of the government's resolve to root out deep-seated corruption, a problem so serious President Xi Jinping has warned it could threaten the party's survival.
Many residents in the Chinese capital voiced approval of the court ruling.
Retribution, sooner or later
"The court's ruling has its own reasons because it has gleaned a lot of facts, right? The average citizen might not understand the facts, they will only understand what they hear from the media and the court. But if the facts are true, really true, then I think the court is right," said 54-year-old Guo Hongxia.
"For people who have done bad things, no matter how many bad things they have done, however they did them, whether they succeeded or not, and how bad the effects of these actions are, they will always face retribution sooner or later. Whoever has done bad things will face retribution sooner or later," said another resident, 64-year-old Mr. Ling.
Bo has no further recourse to appeal, state media said, as he could only take his case to the Supreme Court in Beijing if he had been sentenced to death.
He will now be sent back to Qincheng jail, just north of Beijing, where fallen members of the elite are incarcerated, and will likely never be seen in public again, although he could be released on medical parole some day.