News / Asia

Murdered Briton's Family Seeks Compensation from China

China / Murder / Gu / Heywood
China / Murder / Gu / Heywood
Reuters
The family of a British citizen murdered in China, in one of the nation's biggest political scandals in decades, is seeking compensation from his convicted killer, the wife of former top politician Bo Xilai, a source close to the victim's widow said.
 
Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was sentenced last year to life in jail for the poisoning of British businessman Neil Heywood in a case that also led to a corruption probe into Bo, once a candidate for China's top leadership team.
 
It is customary for a murderer to be ordered to pay court-sanctioned compensation to the victim's family. The source said Heywood's Chinese widow, Lulu, had been pushing for compensation for herself and their two young children from Gu. Lulu and the children are believed to be still living in Beijing.
 
Then Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai attends a plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 11, 2012.Then Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai attends a plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 11, 2012.
x
Then Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai attends a plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 11, 2012.
Then Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai attends a plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 11, 2012.
Bo was sacked as Communist Party chief of the southwestern city of Chongqing last year when his wife was named as an official suspect in the November 2011 murder of Heywood, a long-time friend of the couple who also helped their son, Bo Guagua, settle into study in Britain.
 
Bo is now awaiting trial on charges of corruption, taking bribes and of bending the law.
 
The government originally implicated Bo in helping to cover up Heywood's murder, but the legal indictment issued last month made no mention of that and it is unclear if the case will be included in his trial, likely to start this month.
 
The British Embassy in Beijing said it had passed on the family's concerns about a lack of progress on the compensation request to the Chinese government.
 
“We've made the Chinese authorities, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aware of the family's concerns on several occasions since the trial, most recently twice during July,” said an embassy spokesman, who did not elaborate.
 
Heywood's mother, Ann Heywood, in a statement to the Wall Street Journal, said there had been no progress on seeking compensation.
 
“Given the circumstances of Neil's murder, I have been surprised and disappointed that, despite repeated discreet approaches to the Chinese authorities, there has been no substantive or practical response,” she said.
 
She urged China to show “decisiveness and compassion” to ease the effects of his death on the family, especially his two children, the newspaper added.
 
China's Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
 
Chinese law stipulates that victims of crime can seek compensation from those convicted of crimes, but does not lay out monetary benchmarks, which are generally decided by the courts depending on ability to pay and the nature of the crime.
 
While assets ordered confiscated by courts can be used for compensation, Gu's verdict - as relayed by official state media - made no mention of asset confiscation.
 
“Compensation should have been decided upon at the time of Gu Kailai's trial, but it appears it was not. This is very strange,” said Pu Zhiqiang, a prominent human rights lawyer.
 
“The government can compel the sale of assets to pay compensation,” which for murder cases was generally several hundred thousand yuan, he added.
 
However, for such a sensitive case as this, the upper echelons of ruling Communist Party would have to sign off on a compensation deal, making any court involvement moot.
 
“Decisions about this case have to be made single-handedly by the Communist Party's top leaders. It's not for a court or the government to decide,” said He Weifang, a law professor at Peking University who has closely followed Bo's downfall.
 
Bo, 64, was widely seen as pursuing a powerful spot in the party's top decision-making body before his career unraveled after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate for more than 24 hours in February last year and alleged that Bo's wife Gu had killed Heywood.
 
At her trial in August of last year, Gu admitted to poisoning Heywood, alleging that she had acted after he had threatened her son, Bo Guagua, when a business deal turned sour, according to official accounts published by state media.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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