News / Asia

    China Charges Bo Xilai's Wife With Murder

    China's former Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai (R) and his wife Gu Kailai.
    China's former Chongqing Municipality Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai (R) and his wife Gu Kailai.
    Chinese prosecutors have charged the wife of disgraced former official Bo Xilai and a family employee with the murder of a British businessman, in connection with a political scandal that has embarrassed the Chinese leadership.

    The official Xinhua news agency reports Bo's wife Gu Kailai, and the employee Zhang Xiaojun, recently were charged with "intentional homicide" in the death of Neil Heywood, who had business dealings with the couple.

    Neil Heywood (file photo)Neil Heywood (file photo)
    x
    Neil Heywood (file photo)
    Neil Heywood (file photo)
    Xinhua said Gu and Zhang are suspected of poisoning Heywood, who was found dead in a hotel last November.  Chinese authorities initially attributed his death to a heart attack or excessive drinking.

    The report said Gu and her son had a disagreement with Heywood over "economic interests."  Prosecutors also said Gu was worried about what they called "Heywood's threat to her son's personal security."

    It is the first time China has confirmed a motive for the alleged murder and provided details about how the couple's son, Bo Guagua, is connected to the case.  The younger Bo recently graduated from a program at Harvard University in the United States, but his whereabouts were not immediately known.
    Bo Xilai's wife, Gu Kailai, is at the center of one of the most sensational scandals to rock China's Communist Party.

    • Did not dispute charges she murdered British businessman Neil Heywood
    • Charged with the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood
    • Worked as a successful lawyer before retiring as her husband's career took off
    • Wrote a book about her experience helping Chinese companies win a U.S. legal battle
    • Daughter of a prominent Communist leader

    Xinhua also confirmed that Gu and Zhang will face trial in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei, far from Beijing and Chongqing, where Heywood died.  It said the date of the trial is yet to be decided.  The report also said the evidence against the two defendants is "irrefutable and substantial," indicating Beijing expects a guilty verdict.

    A New York lawyer who has studied China’s legal system said Gu and Zhang would face the death penalty if convicted, but could be spared execution if they receive a probationary sentence.

    Jim Li of Jim Li & Associates said the defendants have the right to choose their own lawyers and appeal any conviction. But, he said Chinese authorities typically harass defense lawyers in sensitive cases and manipulate the appeal process.

    Timeline of the Bo Xilai Scandal

    • Feb. 2:    Bo's key ally and Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun is demoted
    • Feb. 6:    Wang visits U.S. consulate in Chengdu, reportedly to seek asylum
    • Mar. 2:    Xinhua says Wang is under investigation
    • Mar. 9:    Bo defends himself and his wife, Gu Kailai, at a press conference at the National People's Congress
    • Mar.15:   Bo dismissed as Chongqing party chief
    • Mar. 26:  Britain asks China to investigate November death of Briton Neil Heywood in Chongqing
    • Apr. 10:  Bo suspended from Communist Party posts.  China says his wife is being investigated for Heywood's death
    • Apr. 17:  New York Times reports U.S. officials held Wang so he could be handed to Beijing authorities instead of local police.
    • Jul. 26:   Bo's wife, Gu kailai, charged with the murder of Briton Neil Heywood
    • August 9: Gu Kailai's trial begins in Hefei.

    A British Foreign Office spokesman said London is "glad to see that the Chinese authorities are continuing with the investigation" of the case. It said Britain is "dedicated to seeking justice" for Heywood and his family and will be "following developments closely."

    The scandal erupted in February when a longtime Bo family aide fled to a U.S. consulate and made accusations of Gu's involvement in Heywood's death. The following month, authorities removed Bo Xilai from his post as Communist Party chief of the city of Chongqing due to unspecified transgressions.

    Bo had been a rising star in the ruling party and a likely candidate for promotion in China's once-in-a-decade leadership transition, due to take place at a party congress later this year. Some observers have said Chinese leaders want to resolve the Heywood murder case before the congress to prevent it from being a distraction.

    Catherine Maddux contributed to this report.

    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

    You May Like

    No More Space Race for US, Rivalry Gives Way to Collaboration

    What began as a struggle for dominance in space between two world powers has changed entirely to one of joint efforts

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Move Over Millennials, Here Comes iGeneration

    How the first generation to be born, almost literally, with a smartphone in hand, might change America

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: david lulasa from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
    July 27, 2012 5:40 AM
    if there be justice and show of remorse from these chinese culprits,then the chinese government will have been fair..their attitude with assad should not be their attitude when dealing with these brother and sister of theirs.

    lulasa

    by: Vis8 from: USA
    July 26, 2012 7:59 PM
    China did good on this. Scandal or no scandal, the truth came out.

    by: Jack from: Washington DC
    July 26, 2012 6:20 PM
    There is hidden information in the news report of Xinhua News Agency.

    First, Bo Xilai was not mentioned. The intent was to mean that Bo Xilai was not involved in the murder and he did not even know the crime plan.

    Second, Gu and Zhang decided to commit the murder due to worries about threat to Bo Guagua's life, this would be enough to justify not imposing death penalty upon Gu.

    Third, Zhang was the worst person (Gu commited the murder for protection of her son). He would be the unlucky person to be executed.

    The Chinese government is playing law as a tool as it has done for decades.

    by: the Lord from: Bajdocja
    July 26, 2012 10:22 AM
    Truly. For the People Goverment of not only China.
    Thank you, my beloved brother:
    IT IS TRUE ABRAHAMIC MIRACLE
    the Lord

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora