China prosecutes Bo Xilai's wife
China has indicted Gu Kailai, the wife of deposed Communist Party politician Bo Xilai, for intentional homicide, in the latest development in a political scandal that has shaken the Party's once-in-a-decade succession.
Gu and family employee Zhang Xiaojun will be prosecuted for allegedly poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood over"conflict of economic interests" between the Heywood and Gu, the official Xinhua news agency said citing authorities.
"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," Xinhua said.
It did not give a date for the trial, but a family lawyer told Reuters it was likely to take place on August 7th or the following day.
The announcement comes months before the ruling Communist Party unveils a new top leadership.
Heywood was poisoned after he threatened to expose a plan by a Chinese leader's wife to move money abroad, two sources with knowledge of the police investigation told Reuters in April.
Gu has been in police custody for months on suspicion of committing or arranging Heywood's murder, though no details of the motive or the crime itself had not been publicly released, other than a general comment from Chinese state media that he was killed after a financial dispute.
Mr Bo, the 62-year-old Communist Party chief of Chongqing municipality in southwest China before his dismissal, was widely seen as pushing for a spot in that new leadership until felled by the scandal brought to light by his former police chief, Wang Lijun.
Mr Bo was dismissed from his Chongqing post in March, and was suspended from the party's top ranks in April, when his wife Gu was named as a suspect in the November 2011 murder of Heywood, a long-time friend of the couple whose son had earlier studied in England with the help of Heywood.
The politian is under investigation for violating party discipline, and he could later face investigation for criminal charges.
Since Mr Bo was dismissed in March, he and his wife Gu, formerly a powerful lawyer, have disappeared from public view and have not had a chance to respond publicly to the accusations against them.
The removal of Mr Bo has triggered rifts and uncertainty, disrupting the Communist Party's usually secretive and carefully choreographed process of settling on a new central leadership in the run up to its 18th congress.
Left-wing supporters of the charismatic politican have defended him as the instigator of a much-needed new path for China, and many of them see him as the blameless victim of a plot.
The 18th Party Congress, scheduled to be held late this year, will appoint that leadership. President Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao will then step down from their government posts at the National People's Congress in early 2013, when vice president Xi Jinping is likely to succeed Mr Hu as president.