Murder trial for wife of China's Bo Xilai opens

One of China's highest-profile trials in decades opens on Thursday when the wife of the disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai appears in court charged with murdering a British businessman.

Gu Kailai, a former international lawyer whose life of wealth and privilege ended abruptly when she was accused earlier this year of poisoning Neil Heywood, will stand in the dock knowing that she is all but certain to be found guilty.

Analysts say the trial, which is expected to last just a day or two, is an attempt to draw a line under a scandal that has sent shockwaves through the Communist party and exposed deep rifts ahead of a power handover.

It has evoked comparisons with that of Chinese leader Mao Zedong's widow Jiang Qing, who along with three other "Gang of Four" leaders was convicted for fomenting the tumultuous Cultural Revolution.

She received the death penalty but this was later commuted to life in prison, as is often the case for high-profile defendants in China.

In a rare concession, British diplomats will be allowed to attend Thursday's hearing in Hefei, capital of the eastern province of Anhui. It will open in the morning with 100 guests and some media, said a court spokeswoman.

The scandal brought down Gu's husband Bo, a high-flying but divisive Communist official known for his aggressive crackdown on organised crime and for a Maoist-style "red revival" campaign that alienated party moderates.

He is now under investigation for corruption, but with Gu going to trial, some analysts believe she will bear the harsher consequences while Bo will be dealt with more lightly or after the leadership transition this autumn.

"The fact that they are putting her to trial means the top leadership has reached some kind of basic agreement," said Steve Tsang, a professor and director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham.

"They are really focusing on getting Gu Kailai to pay. My bet is that Bo will get off relatively lightly and they are going to park Bo Xilai's case until after the succession, the party Congress."

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post daily said this week that Gu had confessed to the murder and to "economic crimes", although she is charged only with intentional homicide.

State news agency Xinhua has said there is "irrefutable and substantial" evidence that she along with family aide and codefendant Zhang Xiaojun poisoned Heywood.

It said she had "economic conflicts" with the Briton and feared for the safety of her son Bo Guagua, 24, who is believed to be in the United States where he recently completed a master's degree.

The younger Bo told CNN this week he had submitted a witness statement to his mother's defence team, and that he believes the "facts will speak for themselves" in the case.

Though Gu faces the death penalty, legal experts say she will likely receive a commuted death sentence that translates into 10 to 15 years in prison, with her concern for her son's safety providing a mitigating circumstance.

Given her elite stature -- her father was a renowned Communist general -- she may also enjoy comfortable imprisonment conditions.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Nonviolent disciplining of kids pushed

    Child rights advocates called on senators to pass and strongly endorse a law that will institutionalize positive and nonviolent methods of disciplining children.The Child Rights Network (CRN), Plan International Philippines (PIP), Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLPCD), and Lihok Pilipinas Foundation led the call for the enactment of the Positive Discipline Bill.Several Quezon City Council members led by Majority Floor Leader Jesus Manuel Suntay, Victor Ferrer …

  • Method to their madness

    [caption id="attachment_256768" align="alignright" width="212"] Illustration by Rod Cañalita[/caption] EMMANUEL PORTUGAL Country Manager for the Philippines, VMware I look after the garden. I’d like to think that I have a green thumb—no plants have died so far! The ones I like now that I planted a few months ago is the Blue Iris. Like the town in the movie, my Blue Iris shows up in the morning and only appears for one day. …

  • JGFP Summer Tour on today

    The summer tour for local junior golfers kicks off with the holding of the ICTSI-JGFP Baguio Junior Open today and tomorrow at the treacherous Baguio Country Club course in Baguio.Sixty players aged 6 to 17 years old are entered in the 36-hole tourney serving as the opening leg of the summer circuit organized by the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines with the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Foundation as main sponsor. ... …

  • PH now market ready to absorb infra bonds

    The Philippine market is now ready to absorb infrastructure bonds that will be issued by private companies amid a growing pipeline of infra-related projects under the government’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program. President Benigno Aquino III last week said the government is still committed to spend more on the country’s infrastructure, with 16 PPP projects currently on the pipeline and nine that have already been awarded. Over the years, some of the country’s biggest infrastructure …

  • Filipinos are saving more – BSP survey

    More Filipinos have the extra cash to save for that proverbial rainy day, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Philippines (BSP). Based on a quarterly survey on consumer confidence, domestic households with savings have the means to increase family reserves and to bring up the amount to historical highs. The central bank said improved family income, a generally positive outlook on the economy, inflation and foreign exchange rates encouraged saving behavior during the first three months of 2015. …

  • AXA Philippines growing alongside its parent firm

    Philippine AXA Life Insurance Corp. is growing side by side with its parent firm, global insurance firm AXA, after posting significant growth in its total premium income amid an increasing market share in the country. A statement showed that in the Philippines, multi-billion firm AXA Group saw P18.35 billion in total premium income. The local entity of AXA, AXA Philippines is a joint venture between AXA Group and the Metrobank Group. In 2014, it saw an increase in market share to 11.6 …

  • End to traffic jam in sight? Japan to lend P4B to PHL for road projects

    The Japanese government will be providing some P4 billion to the Philippines for road projects aimed at decongesting monstrous jams in Metro Manila.Noriaki Niwa, chief representative of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), said the loan will cover major interchanges to address traffic congestion in Metro Manila, including flyovers, and road links.Among them are the interchanges on EDSA-Roosevelt/Congressional, EDSA-West/North, and C-5-Green Meadows and North/Mindanao Avenue. ... …

  • US won’t provide flexibility for countries interested in TPP

    Washington D.C.—The US government will not provide any flexibility for potential member countries, like the Philippines, in their bid to become part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a senior official said. Economic and Business Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary William E. Craft, Jr., said all restrictions stated under the TPP trade deal will be maintained and have to be met by the current and future member countries. Earlier, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options