Wife of China’s Bo Xilai to be tried on Aug 9
AFP & REUTERS
BEIJING THE WIFE of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai will be tried for the murder of a British businessman on August 9, a lawyer for the family said on Friday.
State media said last week that Gu Kailai, a former international lawyer, had been charged with intentional homicide in the death of Briton Neil Heywood and would face trial in the eastern city of Hefei.
On Friday the family’s lawyer Shen Zhigeng said by telephone that the trial would take place on August 9. No one at the court could be reached for comment.
China’s official news agency Xinhua said last week there was “irrefutable and substantial” evidence that Gu and Zhang Xiaojun, who worked for the Bo family, had poisoned Heywood.
Heywood was found dead in a hotel room in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing in November and his death was initially blamed on excessive alcohol consumption.
Investigation results showed that Gu had clashed with Heywood over “economic interests” and he had threatened her son, according to Xinhua.
If convicted, she faces the death penalty, although this is often commuted in highprofile cases.
Bo was the Communist Party leader for Chongqing and one of China’s most prominent political leaders until his downfall earlier this year, which sent shockwaves through China.
The case burst into the open in February when Wang Lijun, Chongqing police chief and Bo’s righthand man, went to a US consulate in southern China to seek asylum and told diplomats of his suspicions about the charismatic politician and his family.
The scandal rocked the highest echelons of power in China and dashed Bo’s hopes of promotion to the politburo standing committee — the Communist Party’s highest body.
Bo, the son of a revered communist revolutionary, had earned a national profile with a draconian crackdown on criminal elements in Chongqing and a “red revival” campaign marked by the mass singing of old Maoist-era songs.
The rapid unravelling of his fortunes has exposed a harsh factional reaction against the charismatic and ambitious leader, and the affair has been seen as a huge embarrassment for the party.
He is thought to be under house arrest and is being investigated for corruption.
He has been stripped of his senior positions with the ruling Communist Party, although he remains a member.
Last week’s announcement that Gu would face trial came after Patrick Devillers, a French architect said to have been close to the former lawyer, travelled to China to assist in the official inquiry.
Devillers, 52, is understood to have been a business associate and friend of Bo and his wife, although his exact role is unclear.
He was detained in Phnom Penh, where he had been living, on June 13 at Beijing’s request and boarded a flight to China after he was released by Cambodian authorities.
Cambodian officials and the French foreign ministry have stressed it was Devillers’ own choice to help Beijing with its investigation. China has so far made no comment.
British diplomats have requested access to the trial.
CNN reported that two family members would be allowed to attend and that the trial was expected to be speedy.