News / Asia

Disgraced Chinese Politician's Wife Expected in Court on Murder Charges

In this July 30, 2012 photo, books on Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, are displayed at a book shop in Hong Kong.
In this July 30, 2012 photo, books on Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, are displayed at a book shop in Hong Kong.
VOA News
Gu Kailai, wife of ousted senior politician Bo Xilai, will face charges of intentional homicide in a court hearing expected to open Thursday in Hefei, the capital of China’s Anhui province.  Zhang Xiaojun, the butler of the once powerful family, is also charged in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood who was found dead in his hotel room last November.

While the case has huge political repercussions within the Chinese leadership, most Chinese newspapers did not carry the news of the scheduled hearing on Wednesday.  Instead, front pages were reserved for news of Tuesday's Olympic performances.

On its front page, the Beijing Evening News printed a picture of Liu Xiang limping off the track, with an aching expression on his face.  The headline read “Olympic joy, tears and sadness.”  There was no mention in the newspaper of Thursday’s trial.

Such omissions are not uncommon. 

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
Since the scandal started in Chongqing with former police chief Wang Lijun’s request of protection at the U.S. consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu, the Chinese government has sanctioned independent reports on the case and required news outlets to only use brief Xinhua announcements.

The Internet, which has become one of the most vibrant platforms to discuss current events in China, is similarly censored.  Searches for the defendants’ names and other details of the case are blocked on microblogs.

Lawyer Li Xiaolin, famous for defending high profile cases of corruption in China, was asked to represent butler Zhang Xiaojun at the trial.  After contacting Hefei’s High Court, where the case will be heard, Li’s application was rejected.  Li says he will still be in court tomorrow.

“I hope that there will be a fair trial, that is it,” he said adding that so far the case had been handled according to the law.

Sensitive political trials in China are usually held behind closed doors, but a British embassy official said the courts accepted a formal request to have two officials listen to the hearing.

Neil Heywood’s death was first reported to be caused by excessive drinking, and his body was quickly cremated after he died.

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.
But after months of speculation and rumors online, the Chinese media reported last April that Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun were responsible for the Briton’s death.
Media reports at the time hinted at economic disputes between Gu and Heywood, her business associate.  But later reports accused Gu of holding a personal grudge against Heywood because he allegedly threatened her son, Bo Guagua.

News reports Wednesday said Bo Guagua, who has been silent since the scandal broke, submitted a witness statement to the courts, most likely in an attempt to help his mother’s case.

If found guilty of intentional homicide, Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun could face the death penalty.

Gu’s husband Bo Xilai is a so-called princeling, a son of a well respected senior government official whose stature within the party might have helped Bo establish his own political path.  Until this scandal he was considered a prime candidate for a seat at the highest echelon of China’s power, the standing committee of the Communist Party politburo.

After his wife was indicted, he was charged with an unspecified “serious breach of regulation.”

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More