Few doubt that Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, will be found guilty when a court in eastern China delivers a verdict in her murder case next week.
At a brief closed-door trial last week, Gu reportedly confessed to killing British businessman Neil Heywood, a longtime friend and business partner, over a failed financial transaction.
Court officials at the Intermediate People's Court in Hefei, where Gu's seven-hour trial was held on August 9, said her verdict will be delivered at the same court on Monday at 9:00 a.m. local time.
Ever since she and a household aide were charged with the crime in April, state media have been adamant that there is clear and substantial evidence to convict Gu, who is said to have acted out of an unspecified threat against her son.
Implications for Bo unclear
But official accounts of the case have made no mention of her husband Bo Xilai, a powerful ex-Communist Party boss who had been expected to become one of the party's top leaders in a rare power transfer later this year.
Since the scandal broke out, Bo has been stripped of his political posts and completely hidden from public view. But his wife's verdict and sentencing may hold keys as to how party leadership plans to handle Bo, who is being investigated on corruption charges.
Leadership transfer pushing schedule?
It is unclear whether Bo will face criminal charges related to the murder case. But regardless, analysts say Beijing is anxious to quickly resolve the country's messiest political scandal in three decades, especially before it convenes its 18th Party Congress, which could take place by September.
Many supporters of the charismatic Bo suspect that the proceedings against his wife are part of a wider effort to ruin his political career ahead of the leadership transfer. A son of one of the founders of communist China, Bo was popular for his controversial campaign of "red" cultural themes and Maoist slogans.
Though there is little question about whether Gu will be convicted, the outcome of her sentencing is less clear. Though she faces a possible death penalty, Chinese law experts say Gu will likely be spared execution and instead receive a long prison sentence.
The outcome is also uncertain for four senior police officials who were charged with helping Gu cover up her alleged role in the murder. The officials worked in the southwest city Chongqing, where Heywood died in November and where Bo served as party secretary.
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.