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

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.