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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

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.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid