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China: Bo Xilai’s wife charged with murder

Gu and the aide,Zhang Xiaojun,are alleged to have poisoned Heywood together

Written by Associated Press | Beijing | Published: July 27, 2012 12:46 am

Prosecutors have charged the wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai and a family aide with the murder of a British businessman,the government said on Thursday,pushing ahead a case at the centre of a messy political scandal.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that the recently-issued indictment said Bo’s wife,Gu Kailai,had a fallout with Briton Neil Heywood over money and worried that it would threaten her and her son’s safety. Gu and the aide,Zhang Xiaojun,are alleged to have poisoned Heywood together. Heywood’s death in November was attributed initially to a heart attack or excessive drinking.

The brief report is the first official news that the case against Gu was proceeding since the announcement three months ago that she and Zhang were being investigated while Bo was suspended from the Politburo for unspecified discipline violations.

Bo’s ouster and the investigation into his family presented the Communist Party leadership with its ugliest public scandal in nearly two decades. It exposed the bare-knuckled infighting that the secretive leadership prefers to hide and affirmed an already skeptical public’s dim view about corrupt dealings in the party.

The infighting may never have come to light,as has happened in previous cases,except for the sudden flight to the US Consulate in Chengdu of longtime Bo aide and former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun in February. Apparently fearing for his safety if he remained in Chongqing,Wang told American diplomats about his suspicions that Heywood had been murdered and that Bo’s family was involved.

The report did not say when Gu’s trial would be held. She and Zhang were charged in the eastern city of Hefei,far from both Beijing and Chongqing,where Heywood was found dead. Prosecutors have interrogated Gu and Zhang and have “heard the opinions” of their defense lawyers,Xinhua said.

Xinhua,however,made clear the government considers the verdict a foregone conclusion. “The facts of the two defendants’ crime are clear,and the evidence is irrefutable and substantial. Therefore,the two defendants should be charged with intentional homicide,” the report said.

Neil Heywood

20 October 1970 – 14 November 2011 was a British businessman who worked in China

* Heywood had business links with Gu Kailai; Gu and Heywood are said to have had a financial disagreement in October 2011

* Heywood was found dead in his Chongqing hotel room on November 15,2011; initial reports attributed his death to alcohol poisoning

* After the Wang Lijun incident in February 2012,re-investigation was ordered by Chinese authorities and Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun were “highly suspected”

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