The ex-police chief at the centre of China's worst political scandal in decades has gone on trial in a closed hearing involving state secrets.
Wang Lijun's hearing started unexpectedly a day earlier than the court in the central city of Chengdu had announced.
Defence lawyer Wang Yuncai said the hearing examined the charges of defection and abuse of power, and involved state secrets.
Wang, 52, fled to the US Consulate in Chengdu in February and divulged the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, resulting in the removal of his boss, Bo Xilai, from the communist leadership, the conviction of Bo's wife for murder and friction amid Chinese leaders.
Putting Wang on trial is a next step for China's leadership in moving past the scandal and dealing with the stickiest issue: whether to expel Bo from the party and prosecute him. Proof that the scandal's fallout continues to dog Chinese leaders is that they have yet to announce a date for a party congress to install the new leadership, although it is expected in mid- to late October.
A career policeman of more than 20 years, Wang made his name as a gang-buster in a north-eastern province, where he met Bo, then a fast-rising politician who, as the son of a revolutionary veteran, had a web of political contacts. The two rode to national fame together, launching a high-profile sweep against organised crime in Chongqing, an inland mega-city where Bo had been named party chief.
At the height of his career, Wang arrested hundreds of gangsters and government officials, some of whom were sentenced and executed in a matter of months. Most of the charges he faces carry up to 10-year prison terms but longer sentences may be given for extreme breaches.
In a report on his indictment two weeks ago, the official Xinhua News Agency said that Wang knew Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was suspected in the murder of Mr Heywood over a business dispute but that he "neglected his duty and bent the law for personal gain" to cover up for Gu.
At the trial last month after which Gu received a suspended death sentence, prosecutors said Gu conferred with Wang before murdering Mr Heywood and reported back to him afterward, said a lawyer who attended the trial.
His excesses, including alleged torture of detainees, would probably have not got him into trouble had he not embarrassed the ruling elite by going to the US consulate with a fantastic tale of corruption and murder in high places.