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

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Presidential Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    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.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.