Sunday, February 25, 2018

China politician's wife doesn't deny killing Brit

HEFEI, China — Testimony in China's most closely watched murder case in decades wrapped up within hours Thursday as the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai stood accused of luring a British businessman to a hotel, getting him drunk and pouring poison into his mouth.

No verdict or sentence was immediately announced for Gu Kailai, who was tried with a household aide in the death of close family associate Neil Heywood. The defendants did not contest the murder charges. A guilty verdict is all but assured and could carry a death sentence.

The tightly orchestrated court proceeding marks a step toward resolving the messiest scandal the Communist leadership has faced in two decades.

Bo was one of China's most powerful and charismatic politicians until he was ousted in the spring as the scandal unfolded. Observers say the party's main objective is to keep the focus tightly on the murder case and not on larger allegations of corruption that could further taint the regime.

International media were barred from the trial at the Intermediate People's Court in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei. Details of the case were provided afterward by Tang Yigan, the court's deputy director.

He said prosecutors told the court that Gu sent her aide, Zhang Xiaojun, to meet and accompany Heywood from Beijing to the southern megacity of Chongqing, where Bo was the Communist Party boss.

Gu and Heywood were business associates but had a dispute over economic interests, according to Tang. Gu, 53, thought Heywood was a threat to her 24-year-old son, Bo Guagua, and decided to have him killed, said Tang, who did not specify what sort of threat Heywood posed to the son, a recent Harvard graduate.

Tang said prosecutors thought the facts of the crime were clear and the evidence sufficient, and that "Gu Kailai is the main culprit" and Zhang the accomplice."

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