“Trial of the century" begins (and ends) against Gu Kailai
Rome (AsiaNews) - The trial of Kailai Gu, the wife of Bo Xilai, former chief of Chongqing and Politburo member, began this morning in the rain in Hefei, the capital of Anhui, and concluded without any verdict being given. It has been called the "trial of the century" given the rarity of seeing the wife of one who was among the most powerful politicians in China, brought before the courts. It can only be compared to the trial against the third wife of Mao, Jiang Qing, in the case of the Gang of Four, that put an end to Marxism-Leninism in the country.
Gu Kailai, along with her butler Zhang Xiaojun are accused of having poisoned the British businessman Neil Heywood, once considered a "family friend". The murder took place last November, while Bo Xilai still held the reins in Chongqing and was planning to join the Politburo Standing Committee.
The official version that Heywood died from having imbibed too much alcohol, turned into suspicion of murder after Wang Lijun, chief of police and Bo's right-hand man, sought asylum last February at the U.S. consulate in Chengdu. Since then, it has all come crashing down: in March, Bo was discharged from the post of Party secretary of Chongqing and placed under investigation for generic "disciplinary irregularities", in April, his wife was accused of murder.
The trial, that date of which was set a few weeks ago, has some oddities, indicative of the way in which justice is practiced in China:
- 1) It is being held in Anhui and not Chongqing, perhaps to avoid the influence of the still powerful Bo in the judgment. On the other hand, Anhui is famous for being among the most obedient provinces to the Party. In addition, the president of the Supreme Court of Beijing, Wang Shengjun, has a great influence in this province. This means that the trial has been well set up and respect the will of the leadership in Beijing.
- 2) The court Anhui assigned Gu Kailai, formerly a well known attorney, court appointed lawyers, rejecting those chosen by the accused. The two in charge, Jiang Min, president of the Anhui lawyers association and Zhou Yuhao, a member of the Wuhu association have not had much time to prepare the defense and or been able to meet the two accused.
- 3) The press will not be present at the trial, although more than 100 national and foreign newspapers have come to Hefei. On the other hand, two British diplomats were invited to attend the sessions.
- 4) Although everyone knows that Heywood helped the family of Bo Xilai in opaque financial and foreign transactions, and that it was Heywood's threat to reveal to the world the extent of this wealth that led to his death, the indictment cites only Gu Kailai of willful murder and economic crimes;
- 5) The charge (reported by Xinhua) also cites an motive: Gu Kailai committed the murder because she feared for the life of her son Bo Guagua.
Analysts believe these factors indicate that the trial will not reveal any sudden twists. Especially since the body was immediately cremated and Heywood is the only "remains" left is a piece of his heart that Wang Lijun removed prior to the cremation.
The judgment seems to have been already written: Gu Kailai will be found guilty, but the motive for the murder will help her escape the death penalty, the murder will be seen as separate to the economic crimes so as not to involve Bo Xilai (and with him the whole Party ) in crimes of corruption.
Another important fact is that the trial promises to be fast. Originally ot was thought that it would last tow to three days. Instead it was immediatly concluded, even if the verdict is expected in the coming days. In any case the Party is in a hurry to turn the page on and hide this ugly chapter to prepare for the Congress in the autumn, where they will elect new members of the Central Committee Politburo, from which Bo is now excluded.