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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs