News / Asia

Analysts Say Verdict in Gu Kailai Case a Foregone Conclusion

Sarah WilliamsVictor Beattie
The murder trial for Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, is reportedly set to begin Thursday in the Chinese city of Heifei.  Gu is charged in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, who was found dead in a Chongqing hotel last November.

Andrew Nathan, professor of political science at Columbia University and a China expert, says Chinese officials have indicated how the trial will unfold and that the outcome has been decided.

“Certainly in what they call ‘serious and complicated’ cases this is no secret that such cases are not decided by the hearing judge alone, but they’re decided by a committee inside the court in advance,” he said.  “It’s not a trial in a western sense.”

“They have already said that she confessed to the crime of murder, that it was involving some economic disagreement, and that she said she did it to protect her son," said Nathan. 

Nathan believes those are the kind of legally relevant points which suggest that she might get a sentence of life imprisonment or a death sentence with a two year reprieve.

The trial is closed to the public and foreign media, but two British officials have been given permission to observe the proceedings. Gu’s aide Zhang Xiaojun is also charged with Heywood’s murder.

Heywood met Bo and Gu during the 1990’s while Bo served as mayor of Dalian.  He helped the couple’s son, Bo Guagua, gain admittance to his own alma mater Harrow School and then to Oxford University. Gu lived in Britain for about two years while her son was in school there, and it is thought Heywood offered Gu financial advice. 

Heywood’s death was initially blamed on excessive alcohol consumption, and his body was quickly cremated. But in February, Wang Lijun, an aide to Bo Xilai, fled to the U. S. consulate in Chengdu and asked for protection. 

“You have a situation in which the public doesn’t know anything but the Chinese authorities know that the American authorities know something, so the Chinese authorities at that point really have no choice but to consider this information public, because at any time the Americans could have spread it,” said Nathan. 

“I’m sure the Americans told the British authorities what they knew about the fate of a British citizen, so in other words, it wasn’t public, but it was no longer secret either, so the Chinese hand was forced, they had to deal with it,” said Nathan.

The trial follows the ouster of Gu’s husband, Bo Xilai, from his powerful post as Communist Party chief of Chongqing.  It is not yet known whether Bo’s political fate has been determined by party leaders.

The son of a famous revolutionary leader, Bo had been considered a top contender for the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top decision-making body.  But his charisma and leftist policies such as evoking nostalgia for the Cultural Revolution angered some party officials.  Bo was stripped of his post and placed under investigation following Wang’s flight to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu.

The scandal also impacted the party’s leadership transition.  Ken Dewoskin, director of Deloitte’s China Research and Insight Center in Beijing, said the Bo Xilai purge illustrates the factionalism within the Communist Party.

“It takes a lot of political wrangling to topple a top leader like that,” said Dewoskin. “Obviously he would have very strong support in the top echelons, a very large patronage network, a lot of people who trusted him, their resistance to purging him had to be overcome.” 

Andrew Nathan believes the Gu case is an offshoot of the larger Bo Xilai scandal. “The bigger power struggle was Bo’s enemies trying to find something on him, and they did, and so he is no longer a candidate for promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee,“ he said.

The current meeting of senior party leaders at the Beidaihe resort also fanned speculation as to the direction of the party and the timing of the party congress, usually held in the fall. “Now the story is with this Beidaihe retreat that there is a consensus, that things are under control, that there is not a major fracture that the public has to worry about, that things will proceed normally,” said Dewoskin.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid