The wife of a former high-ranking Communist Party member is accused of poisoning a British businessman
Gu Kulailai, the wife of disgraced Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Bo Xilai, did not contest the charge of murder during her court appearance Thursday stemming from the poisoning of a British businessman in 2011, a court official said.
Gu Kulailai, referred to in the court’s proceedings by her official name, Bogu Kailai, along with her alleged accomplice, Zhang Xiaojun, are accused of the 2011 poisoning death of Neil Heywood in what is being called “China’s trial of the century.”
The main account of the trial issued by the court in Hefei, the provincial capital of Anhui in eastern China, was given to reporters. The translation is provided by Reuters and is as follows:
“This morning at 8:30, the first section of this court held a public trial attended by prosecutors, the accused Bogu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun and their defense attorneys, as well as an attorney engaged by the relatives of the victim, Neil Heywood. More than 140 people were present at the hearing, including some friends and relatives of Bogu Kailai, Zhang Xiaojun and the victim Neil Heywood; British consular officials; journalists; People’s Congress delegates, People’s Political Consultative Conference members and members of the public.
“The Hefei People’s Procuratorate charged that the accused Bogu Kailai and her son Bo became involved in a dispute over economic interests with the victim, Neil Heywood. Bogu Kailai believed that Neil Heywood had threatened the personal safety of her son Bo, and decided to kill him. She then arranged for the co-accused Zhang Xiaojun – an employee of the Chongqing Municipal Party Committee office – to invite and accompany Heywood from Beijing to Chongqing.
“On the evening of November 13, 2011, Bogu Kailai went to Heywood when he was staying in Room 1605 at Building No. 16 of the Nanshan Lijing Hotel and drank alcoholic drinks and tea with him. After Heywood became intoxicated, vomited and asked for a drink of water, she poured poison into his mouth that had been prepared beforehand and that she had given to Zhang Xiaojun to bring along, causing Heywood’s death.
“The Hefei People’s Procuratorate believes that the accused Bogu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun used brutal means to commit murder, and the facts of the crime are clear and backed by ample evidence. Their actions violated Article 232 of the Criminal Code of the People’s Republic of China, and they should be prosecuted for criminal culpability for intentional homicide. This case involved a joint offence, with Bogu Kailai as the principal offender and Zhang Xiaojun as the accessory.
“The accused Bogu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun did not raise objections to the facts and the charge of intentional homicide.
“The defense lawyers for the accused Bogu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun respectively presented their defense. Bogu Kailai’s defense believed that the victim bore some responsibility for the causes of the case; that Bogu Kailai’s capacity for control was weaker than normal people’s at the time of the offence; and that the accused had rendered major contributions by informing on the crimes of the others; and he pleaded with the court to take into account general considerations in passing judgment. The defense for Zhang Xiaojun argued that he was an accomplice, and that in passing judgment on Zhang it should give a lighter punishment according to the law.
“The attorney engaged by the relatives of the victim submitted opinions on dealing with some of the criminal matters, and stated respect for the court’s open trial.
“During the trial, Bogu Kailai was in good health and emotionally stable.”
Heywood’s death was initially recorded as a heart attack. Four months after Heywood’s murder, Bo Xilai’s right-hand man, police chief Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate and alleged that a murder had taken place along with a massive cover-up.
Bo Xilai was the head of the Communist party in Chongqing at the time of Heywood’s murder and had been seen as a strong contender for one of the highest positions within the nation’s Communist Party.
Bo Xilai was forced from his position in March amid the murder scandal and is now under investigation for unspecified “disciplinary violations.”
Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun face the death penalty if convicted. According to a court official, the verdict will be announced at a later date.