Bo Xilai scandal: Gu Kailai jailed over Heywood murder

::The wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo
Xilai has been given a suspended death
sentence for the murder of British
businessman Neil Heywood.
Gu Kailai did not contest charges at her one-day trial
that she poisoned Mr Heywood in November 2011.
Suspended death sentences are usually commuted
to life imprisonment in China.
Mr Bo, the former party chief in Chongqing, was
once seen as a contender for a national leadership
position in a top-level reshuffle later this year.
But he has not been seen in public since the
investigation into Gu was announced.
Gu's aide, Zhang Xiaojun, was jailed for nine years
for his part in the murder.
'Huge stone'
The verdict in China's most high-profile trial for
years came early on Monday, inside a court ringed
by security personnel.
Chinese state media have reported that during the 9
August trial - which was not open to all - Gu
admitted she poisoned Neil Heywood in a hotel
room in Chongqing, helped by her aide.
She said she had suffered a mental breakdown and
that Mr Heywood had threatened her son amid a row
over a property deal, state media said.
"This case has been like a huge stone weighing on
me for more than half a year," she was quoted as
Speaking after the sentence was announced, court
spokesman Tang Yigan said the court believed Mr
Heywood had threatened Gu's son but not acted on
the threats. It also found Gu had been suffering from
"psychological impairment", he said.
In a statement, the British embassy in Beijing said
its thoughts were with the family of Mr Heywood.
"We welcome the fact that the Chinese authorities
have investigated the death of Neil Heywood, and
tried those they identified as responsible," the
statement said.
"We consistently made clear to the Chinese
authorities that we wanted to see the trials in this
case conform to international human rights
standards and for the death penalty not to be
A lawyer for the Heywood family said they
respected the court's decision.
The sentence of death with
a two-year suspension
means that if Gu commits
no crimes while in prison,
her sentence will be
commuted after two years
to life imprisonment and
could be further reduced for
good behaviour, Chinese
legal expert Professor
Donald Clarke writes in his
Chinese internet users
reacted immediately to the verdict on Twitter-like
microblogging platforms.
With key names connected to the case still
apparently censored, most used the phrase
"suspended death sentence". Within two hours,
there were at least two million posts.
Many users expressed dissatisfaction, saying most
murderers in China would be executed. Some
attributed it to Gu's background, others suggested
she could eventually be freed under medical parole.
Leadership change
At a separate trial on 10 August, four senior police
officers from Chongqing admitted charges of
covering up evidence linking Gu to the murder. A
court official said they had been given terms of
between five and 11 years in prison, AFP reported.
Mr Heywood's death was initially recorded as a
heart attack.
The case came to light when Bo Xilai's deputy,
police chief Wang Lijun, fled to the US consulate in
February, reportedly with information connected to
the case.
He has not been seen in public since then and state
media say he is being investigated.
It is not yet known how the Communist Party plans
to deal with Mr Bo, once seen as a powerful and
ambitious high-flier.
Many analysts expected him to be promoted to the
nine-strong politburo Standing Committee later in
the year.
Seven committee members are due to retire, with a
new generation of leaders to take their place at a
party congress expected later this year.
But Mr Bo has been stripped of his official posts and
is being investigated for "discipline violations",
state media reports say.
A lengthy Xinhua news agency write-up of Gu's
trial, however, made no mention of Mr Bo.

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