With only 19 "trusted" Chinese journalists allowed into the courtroom, we again had to seek out other sources of information to fill in the blanks and cross-check the court's micro-blogs. The official narrative left out parts that may put Bo in good light, two people with knowledge of the proceedings told CNN.
At the closing session on Monday, sources said, Bo spoke for nearly half an hour, much longer than the court transcripts suggested. Bo explained he was retracting his signed confessions because he made them under "severe pressure" during the 17 months he was detained and repeatedly interrogated. After he spoke, Bo's five family members stood up, clapping and saying: "Well put, Xilai! We will always stand by you."
While we could not get the whole truth from the micro-blog, Li Weijia suggested the trial offered some hope. "We could get a sense of what was going on inside the courtroom, especially when Bo said 'no' to some of the charges in front of the judge and his relatives."
Business as usual
Yet some things have not changed, even with the significant progress China has made in reforming its legal system in recent years.
In 1981, for instance, the Chinese court nonchalantly billed the landmark judicial process as "The Trial of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing Counter-Revolutionary Cliques" -- pronouncing the defendants guilty of "counter-revolution" even before the trial.
Three decades later today, there is still no presumption of innocence at a trial. Holding a trial typically presumes guilt, because a preliminary investigation is supposed to have already determined that before going to trial.
In Bo's case, observers say President Xi Jinping's new administration will be treading carefully.
"They want to win the case whereby Bo Xilai will be disgraced for the rest of his life so that he will never have a realistic chance to make a political comeback," said Gao. "But they see no incentive in having 'blood' on their hands. They just want a quick and effective way to dispose of this case and turn a new page."
The court is expected to hand down a guilty verdict.
"Leniency to those who confess, severity to those who resist," goes the guiding principle of China's socialist legal system. Given Bo's defiance and refusal to confess, it seems the only question is how severe the sentence will be.