China tries politician's wife for murder of UK businessman
CHINA will try the wife of ousted politburo member Bo Xilai this week for the murder of a UK businessman, and will allow British diplomats to attend the proceedings.
Two officials from the UK embassy in Beijing will be given access to the trial of Gu Kailai, reports said. China unveiled formal charges against Ms Gu late last month. She is accused of "intentional homicide" in the death of Briton Neil Heywood.
Ms Gu's prosecution pushes forward the Chinese Communist Party's case months after the dramatic firing of Mr Bo, the most serious upheaval in the country's top ranks since party general secretary Zhao Ziyang was purged after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Mr Bo's downfall has focused attention on corruption among the Chinese ruling elite and political divisions, and has clouded a once-a-decade leadership transition this year.
Authorities have said the trial will take place on Thursday, a British Embassy official said. Diplomats have not been given an indication of how long the trial will last and the court has not indicated they would be able to attend the entire proceedings, he said.
The official could not confirm any details about whether members of Mr Heywood's family would attend the trial. Ms Gu, once a lawyer, will stand trial in Hefei, the capital of eastern Anhui province, according to Xinhua news agency.
Mr Heywood was found dead in his hotel room in Chongqing in November. Ms Gu's alleged involvement in his death was exposed after Mr Bo's former police chief in Chongqing, Wang Lijun, went to the US consulate in Chengdu in February bearing evidence that she and family aide Zhang Xiaojun had had Mr Heywood killed, according to US officials briefed on the matter.
Chinese investigators had told UK authorities Mr Heywood died of alcohol poisoning.
"The facts are clear and the evidence is firm and adequate," Xinhua said last month of the charges against Ms Gu. An orderly in her home, Mr Zhang, was also charged, it said.
Ms Gu and her son had a financial conflict with Mr Heywood, which led her to believe he was a threat to her son's safety, Xinhua said.
Mr Bo was removed as Communist Party secretary of the western municipality of Chongqing in March. In April he was suspended from the politburo and accused of serious violations of Communist Party discipline after the claims about his wife were revealed. No formal charges have been announced against him. He has not been seen in public since March.
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