News / Asia

Analysts Say Verdict in Gu Kailai Case a Foregone Conclusion

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid