Gu Kailai trial ends after just one day

 

The woman at the centre of China's most politically explosive trial in three decades did not contest charges of murder today in a hearing that lasted just seven hours and could determine the fate of former Politburo member Bo Xilai.

A formal verdict will be delivered at a later date, a court official said, recounting details of the closed-door hearing.

Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, chose not to contest the charge of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood whose alleged secretive dealings with the couple fuelled a scandal exposing the intimate nexus between money and power in China's elite.

The dramatic account of Heywood's death by poisoning is also likely to sound the final death knell to Bo's political career, even as sympathisers cast him as the victim of a push to oust him and discredit his left-leaning agenda.

"The accused Bogu (Gu) Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun did not raise objections to the accusations of intentional homicide," the official, Tang Yigan, said after the hearing, referring also to Gu's co-accused, an aide to the family.

State television showed Gu, wearing a dark trouser suit and a white shirt, being led into the courtroom and being seated in the dock. She appeared to have put on weight since she was detained earlier this year.

The court official quoted prosecutors as saying Gu and Zhang had killed Heywood with a poisoned drink in far southwestern Chongqing last November, after a business dispute between Gu and Heywood. Bo ruled the vast municipality until he was sacked in March just before the murder scandal burst into the open.

As a result of the dispute with Heywood, Gu had become convinced Heywood was a threat to her son, Bo Guagua, the official said without elaborating.

"Gu Kailai believed that Neil Heywood had threatened the personal safety of her son Bo (Guagua) and decided to kill him," the official added, reading from a statement to a packed news conference of dozens of reporters who had been barred entry to the courtroom in the eastern city of Hefei.

The aide, Zhang, had driven Heywood to Chongqing last November from Beijing and prepared a poison which was to be put later into a drink of water. Later that day, Heywood met Gu at a hotel, he became drunk and then asked for water.

"She poured a poison into his mouth," the official said.

Reuters

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