News / Asia

Gu Kailai Ruling Leaves Unanswered Questions

Gu Kailai (C), wife of ousted Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Bo Xilai, stands at the defendant's dock during a trial in the court room at Hefei Intermediate People's Court in this still image taken from video, August 20, 2012.
Gu Kailai (C), wife of ousted Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Bo Xilai, stands at the defendant's dock during a trial in the court room at Hefei Intermediate People's Court in this still image taken from video, August 20, 2012.
William Ide
BEIJING — One of China's most closely watched criminal trials swung quickly to a close this week in what has been portrayed as a straightforward case. Gu Kailai confessed to killing British businessman Neil Heywood and for that she was handed a swift suspended death sentence.

But, for some observers, many questions remain - particularly about the individual the case has all but ignored Gu's husband and fallen Chinese political star Bo Xilai.

In the Chinese media, Gu Kailai goes by the name of Bo Gukailai, with her husband’s surname placed in front of hers.

However, aside from that brief mention of him, Bo’s name has hardly come up in connection with Gu’s trial.

Unanswered questions

Mo Shaoping, a rights lawyer in Beijing, says one of several questions the case left unanswered is how much Bo Xilai knew about the murder and when?

Mo says the question of when Bo found out has legal and criminal implications.  Mo says, if Bo knew about his wife’s plans before hand, he could have been considered an accomplice in the murder. If it was after the fact, he could have been charged with covering the murder up.

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
The rights lawyer says another glaring question that was quickly glossed over during the trial, was Gu’s claim that Neil Heywood was threatening her son, Bo Guagua, over a business deal gone bad.

Mo says that if the two had some kind of business dispute that was so bad that it led Heywood to threaten the life of Bo Guagua, what was the dispute all about?  He says these and other questions were left unanswered by the court.

Insulation

Some political analysts have concluded that the ruling shows that China’s Communist party leaders are looking to insulate themselves and Bo from any further damage. Some argue the ruling shows that little more will happen to Bo.

Others say a government investigation into Bo continues and his wife’s trial is but another step in that process.

Gauging what may come next is hard in a country where the government continues to hold even simple details, such as the dates for upcoming leadership meetings, as tightly guarded secrets.

Trial coverage in Chinese media this week has been muted at best, with many relying entirely on a report from the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

However, there is more commentary online on websites and social media sites.
In some postings on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo site, Gu Kailai’s name is starting to be used to describe anyone believed to have gotten away with murder.

'Political game of chess'

One user argued that Gu was just a pawn in some bigger political game of chess, while another called the ruling a “farce” that was “made up to deceive the public.”

Pu Zhiqiang, a Beijing-based lawyer says it is hard not to see the ruling as rigged and that the trial skipped over the lingering issue of corruption.

Pu says that, with all of the accusations, rumors and concerns that have been raised about Gu and her business practices in the past, is it possible that she is guilty of just one crime?

Mo says it is also curious that Gu, with her extensive legal experience and massive political power, did not just choose to stage a traffic accident to have Neil Heywood killed.

Mo says, regardless of how angry Gu was and how much hatred she had for Heywood, it is hard to comprehend why she personally carried out the murder and did it in a five-star hotel.

For some in China, the court’s sentencing is perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the case. In a country with a notoriously tough criminal justice system, Gu’s suspended death sentence could see her free on medical parole in as few as nine years. That sentence is far more lenient that what most face for premeditated murder.


  • In this photo released by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, Bo Xilai is handcuffed and held by police officers as he stands at the court in Jinan, in eastern China's Shandong province, Sept. 22, 2013.
  • A minivan believed to be carrying Bo Xilai arrives at the Jinan Intermediate People's Court ahead of the fifth day of Bo's trial, August 26, 2013. 
  • In this image taken from video, Bo Xilai addresses a court at Jinan Intermediate People's Court in eastern China's Shandong province, Aug. 24, 2013.
  • A woman protests outside the Jinan Intermediate People's Court, eastern China's Shandong province, August 21, 2013.
  • Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, is seen in a still image taken from an August 10, 2013 video provided by the Jinan Intermediate People's Court.
  • Policemen are seen at a court building where the trial for Bo Xilai was held in Jinan, Shandong province.
  • Former police chief Wang Lijun speaks during a court hearing in Chengdu, China, in this still image taken from CCTV video, Sept. 18, 2012.
  • This video image taken from CCTV shows Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, being taken into the Intermediate People's Court in the eastern Chinese city Hefei, August 9, 2012.
  • Police officers stand guard at the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court for the murder trial of Gu Kailai, Anhui Province, China, August 9, 2012.
  • A  combonation photo showing Neil Heywood and Gu Kailai.
  • Bo Xilai, walks past Communist Party leaders at the National People's Congress in Beijing, March 9, 2012.
  • Bo Xilai, right and his son, Bo Guagua, 2007.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
August 23, 2012 9:36 PM
Was the Gu Kailai trial fair? Why was she spared the death sentence? What can businessmen and investors learn from it? Join the debate this Tuesday 28, 6PM, New York City, and make yourself heard. http://bit.ly/PWzuEx.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid