State forensic official queries finding of cyanide as cause of Heywood death

Fri, Sep 28, 2012, 01:00

ONE OF China’s top state forensic experts has cast doubt on how British businessman Neil Heywood died, saying there was insufficient medical evidence to suggest he died by cyanide poisoning.

The comments by Wang Xuemei, who is a senior official in the government’s top prosecutors’ office, run counter to the official version of a scandal that has shaken the upper echelons of the Communist Party.

“I feel very disappointed and upset about the investigation and trial in this case and the final decision in the death of Neil Heywood case,” she wrote in a blog posting. “As a forensic expert, the final conclusion, death by cyanide poisoning, seriously lacks scientific evidence.”

The Heywood murder case has been at the heart of a scandal, which has seen former rising star Bo Xilai purged from the leadership and his wife given a suspended death sentence for her part after she confessed to poisoning Mr Heywood by pouring cyanide into his mouth.

However, the forensic expert believes death did not appear to be by poisoning, which could bring the confession into doubt.

Ms Wang also questioned evidence given in the trial of Mr Bo’s one-time protegé and police chief Wang Lijun, who was jailed for 15 years on Monday for covering up the murder, corruption, defection and abuse of power.

“Any general practitioner could see immediately the reason for death if it had been caused by cyanide poisoning, because cyanide can cause immediate death if taken orally, but there was no detailed description by Gu or Wang that they witnessed the death of Heywood at the time,” she said.

“Even if Wang Lijun tried to cover up the real reason for Heywood’s death, there must have been a medical expert at the scene to check the body, which means at the very beginning, his death was not carried out by cyanide,” she added.

She believed the real reason for Mr Heywood’s death could have been suffocation, but that given the speed with which the body was cremated, only the people who did it would ever know the truth.

“Nobody can safely convict anyone on this evidence,” Ms Wang added. “Instead the truth will only be known by those who make up this version of events.

“This is why there was a phone conversation between Wang and Gu, in which he said the evidence had disappeared like smoke.”