Chinese expert casts doubt on Neil Heywood death verdict


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The Independent Online

A prominent Chinese government forensic scientist has questioned the cause of death of a murdered British businessman, casting doubt on the official version of a scandal that reached into the upper levels of the Communist Party.

In a blog post that has since been removed, Wang Xuemei, a forensic expert with the top prosecutors' agency, said the official accounts lack sufficient evidence that Neil Heywood died from cyanide poisoning, which she describes as leaving the body obviously discoloured.

Mr Heywood's murder last November is a central element of the scandal which led to Bo Xilai being ousted from the leadership. Mr Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence last month after confessing to murdering Mr Heywood over a business dispute by pouring cyanide into his mouth.

Ms Wang confirmed in a phone interview yesterday that she is the author of the blog entry posted late on Wednesday detailing her suspicions about the case.

Ms Wang said acute cyanide poisoning usually causes a quick death with noticeable symptoms such as convulsions, coma and a sudden halt in breathing that Gu or Gu's accessory should have described in their account of the crime, but did not.

Despite the absence of such testimony, "our court went as far as to accept the conclusion of cyanide poisoning as the cause of death. About this, I feel very pained, very uneasy, very frightened!" Ms Wang wrote.

Prosecutors either declined to comment or could not be reached.