Beijing (AsiaNews) - The verdict of the "trial
of the century", against Kailai Gu, Bo Xilai's wife (see photo), the
powerful former head of Chongqing, will be handed down on 20 August.
In an August 9 trial lasting only a few hours Gu Kailai was charged with having poisoned businessman Neil Heywood, aided by her servant Zhang Xiaojun. Both risk the death penalty.
A spokesman for the court explained that Gu Kailai has confessed to the murder, but also pointed out that she was motivated by concerns that Heywood would threaten the life of her son.
Analysts believe that this mitigating factor will help the woman to escape the death penalty, which may be deferred to a long sentence and later transformed into a custodial sentence.
The name of Bo Xilai, Gu's husband, was never mentioned during the trial. With Heywood's help, Bo had built a commercial and financial empire for the whole family with basis in China, Hong Kong, and the Caribbean. But Bo resigned as party secretary of Chongqing in March and seems to be under general investigation for "violations of party discipline."
According to some young people in Beijing, the Party leadership has managed to manipulate the trial and reduce the charges to murder of the British entrepreneur - killed because he wanted to reveal the economic empire of Bo to the public - without looking into the question of corruption of Bo Xilai or other party members.
In October, the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party leadership opens, underling the necessity to avoid further tarnishing its image with accusations of corruption or betrayal of Communist ideals.
Meanwhile, preparations for the Congress have begun in the capital, which will gather around 2 thousand delegates from all over the country. On the agenda is the change of leadership, which should see Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang rise to the presidency and the premiership taking over from Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. The Politburo Standing Committee, the true power brokers within the Party composed of nine persons, is also expected to see a reshuffle. Of these nine, five will resign on reaching retirement age. Bo Xilai, before his fall, was one of the possible candidates.
The delicate situation of the transition of power coupled with population's grievances towards the Party have led to a major increase in security in the capital. At least 27 thousand soldiers, police and armed guards will be deployed every day to ensure the smooth conduct of the Congress.
Two days ago, police chief Fu Zhenghua, told the press that "Beijing police will have to tow a hard line to ensure discipline."