China Court Gives Gu Kailai Suspended Death Sentence: Lawyer
Hefei, China. A Chinese court on Monday handed Gu Kailai, wife of the disgraced leader Bo Xilai, a suspended death sentence for murdering a British man, a lawyer for the victim’s family said.
He Zhengsheng told reporters after Monday’s hearing that Gu had been found guilty and given the death penalty with two years’ reprieve — a sentence that is usually commuted to life in prison.
Gu confessed during her trial this month to killing 41-year-old Neil Heywood by pouring poison down his throat, saying she had threatened her son after a business deal went sour.
Monday’s hearing was closed to foreign reporters, but He, who was in court, said that Gu was present to hear her sentence.
Zhang Xiaojun, an employee of the Bo family who was charged as an accomplice to the murder, was sentenced to nine years in jail, He said, adding, “we respect today’s decision”.
Heywood’s death in a hotel room in southwest China last November was initially attributed to a heart attack, but Chinese authorities said in April that Gu was suspected of killing him.
The case brought down her husband Bo, who had been tipped for promotion to the elite group of Communist Party leaders that effectively rules China until the allegations against his wife burst into the open.
He was placed under investigation for corruption in April and his fate remains unclear.
Political analysts say China’s leaders are eager to draw a line under the controversy, which revealed deep rifts at the heart of the party ahead of a generational handover of power due to begin this autumn.