Bo Xilai's wife charged with Heywood murder
PROSECUTORS HAVE formally charged the wife of purged Chinese politician Bo Xilai with the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, the latest development in China’s biggest political scandal in two decades.
Xinhua News Agency reported that Gu Kailai, and her son, Bo Guagua, fell out with Mr Heywood over “economic interests”. An employee of the family, Zhang Xiaojun, was also charged.
“Worrying about Neil Heywood’s threat to her son’s personal security, Bogu Kailai along with Zhang Xiaojun, the other defendant, poisoned Neil Heywood to death,” Xinhua reported.
The agency used the unusual formulation “Bogu”, which joins Ms Gu’s name with her husband’s, to describe her.
“The facts of the two defendants’ crime are clear, and the evidence is irrefutable and substantial. Therefore, the two defendants should be charged with intentional homicide,” the Xinhua report said.
Mr Bo was stripped of his post as Communist Party secretary of the southwestern city of Chongqing in March in what looked like a political purge.
There was no reference to Mr Bo or what was happening to him, nor did the report say when Ms Gu’s trial would be held. She and Mr Zhang were charged in the eastern city of Hefei, far from both Beijing and Chongqing.
As a rising star in the Communist Party, Mr Bo was poised to move from being leader of Chongqing to a position at the top table of the ruling elite. However, since his purge in March, he has been under investigation for breaching Communist Party discipline.
Mr Heywood was found dead in a hotel in Chongqing. Local police initially said he died after excessive drinking, but subsequently the official version was that he was poisoned and Mr Bo and his family were being investigated.
The government is keen to have the trial out of the way before a leadership transition in autumn.
It is rare in China that anyone facing a criminal trial is found innocent. It is likely Ms Gu will be executed or have a death sentence suspended for two years, which usually means it will not be carried out.