08/11/2012, 00.00
CHINA

Chongqing Saga: Bo Xilai’s wife accepts murder charges

The news was broadcast by Chinese state media. Only press allowed access to Gu Kailai’s trial last August 9. The woman justified the murder of Neil Heywood with a mental breakdown due to the threats to her son. Suspicions about a deal between Bo and the leaders in Beijing to prevent further scandals. Experts maintain Chongqing leader’s wife is following a script drawn up by Chinese Communist Party.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Gu Kailai, wife of former Communist Party leader of Chongqing, Bo Xilai, has admitted the murder of British entrepreneur Neil Heywood, found dead in a hotel in November 2011. The news was reported by Chinese state media, the only ones allowed inside the courtroom.

At her trial, which began on August 9, the woman justified the act with a "nervous breakdown" due to threats she claimed the British businessman made against her son. During the hearing Gu Kailai said that she would accept any verdict of the court. In the session details emerged about the involvement of Wang Lijun, chief of police in Chongqing. He had helped Gu plan Heywood's murder. His four deputies, also on trial, are charged with helping him cover up the case.

"Last November - Gu allegedly confessed - I had a mental breakdown after discovering that my son Bo Guagu was in danger." According to a reconstruction he young man had had a dispute with Heywood over money matters. "I am the cause of this tragedy - said the woman - which unfortunately which not only involved Neil, but other families. The case has had serious consequences for the Communist Party throughout the country. For my part I will accept and calmly face any sentence and... court decision. " During the hearing, Gu's lawyers did not contest the version that accuses Bo Xilai's wife of having poisoned Heywood with cyanide. The version recounted in court states that last November Gu Kailai visited Heywood at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel and drank alcohol and tea with him. After getting drunk and vomiting, Heywood asked for a glass of water. Gu brought it to him, but it was a poison supplied by her butler, Zhang Xiaojun. Yesterday, court officer Tang Yigan of 'Hefei eastern China, told reporters that the court's verdict will be announced in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the four police officers accused of having hidden Gu Kailai's murder of Neil Heywood, did not contest the charges against them. The first hearing began yesterday in Hefei in Anhui, the same city as Gu Kailai's trial. They are: Guo Weiguo, deputy chief of police in Chongqing, Li Yang, a former head of the criminal investigation team and district officers Wang Zhi and Wang Pengfei.

Experts note that during the trial of Gu Kailai none of the defendants mentioned the name of Bo Xilai. Joseph Cheng, professor of political science at City University of Hong Kong, believes that the authorities have reached an agreement with the former leader of Chongqing. The speed of the sessions and the great cooperation of the accused is also surprising. Indeed, to avoid involving prominent members of the Communist Party, the leadership is believed to have given precise procedural orders with the objective of concluding the embarrassing process before the change over in Chinese leadership, which will take place in autumn during the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. "The Gu trial - he continues - went so smoothly and according to the script... there was no mention of corruption and Bo Xilai's name wasn't mentioned."

The suspected murder of Neil Heywood emerged in February. In March, the Bo Xilai case exploded into a serious crisis that has threatened the Chinese Communist Party. His fall is one of the most spectacular political dramas in China since Tiananmen. Mere weeks before his removal, on March 15, he was seen as a successful man, destined to join the Politburo Standing Committee. His populist campaign to revive Maoism, re-distributing wealth to the poor, was shared by several fringes of the party, including several "princes" such as Xi Jinping, the heir to President Hu Jintao. In his attempt to "clean Chongqing" of triads and mafia, he used illegal methods and also arrested hundreds of party members.

The façade of Maoist populism did not stop Bo and his family, however, from amassing enormous wealth at home and abroad. According to rumors, it was his very threat of publically revealing the real proportions of this wealth that sealed Heywood's fate, hitherto regarded as "an old family friend."

 

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