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Gu Xilai admits to murder in China trial

Last updated on: August 09, 2012 18:50 IST

The high-profile trial of the wife of disgraced Chinese Communist Party leader Bo Xilai, for murdering a British businessman, turned out to be a one-day affair, with court saying she had admitted guilt and the verdict would be announced soon.

The court wound up the case involving Gu Kailai and her orderly Zhang Xiaojun, hours after it began and stated that four police officers will also go on trial in the case for alleged cover up.

According to a report in state-run Xinhua news agency, Gu invited the Briton, with whom she had conflict over "economic interests" to a vacation resort where she poisoned him with the help of her orderly.

The trial of Gu and Zhang began on Thursday morning at Intermediate People's Court at the eastern Chinese city of Hefei under tight security, and was attended among others by two British diplomats.

TV footage showed her being escorted to the court by two policewomen and she was seen smiling and appeared in good spirits.

By noon, Xinhua flashed the news that Gu has been charged with administering poison to the 41-year-old Briton.

It said in the "intentional homicide trial" of Gu and Zhang, prosecutors charged that Gu personally administered poison to Heywood in November in Chongqing where her husband Bo worked as head of city Communist Party wing.

According to Xinhua, Gu, 53, opted to kill Heywood and she and her son Bo Guagua had business conflicts with him.

"Worrying about Heywood's threat to her son's personal security, Gu Kailai decided to murder Heywood," it said.

She made Zhang to invite Heywood to Chongqing from Beijing and met him "for a drink" at the vacation resort Chongqing.

"After Heywood was drunk, vomited and asked for water, she put the poison which Zhang had brought along to the hotel room, into Heywood's mouth, which led to Heywood's death," the report said.

The prosecuting body said the facts of the two defendants poisoning the victim to death are clear and the evidence is substantial.

"Their behaviour has violated Article 232 of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China; therefore, the two defendants should be held criminally responsible for intentional homicide," the prosecution said.

The charges could invite death penalty.

The case is a joint offence with Gu Kailai as the principal and Zhang as the accessory, the prosecuting said.

Later a court official in a surprise briefing to the press said trial has ended and the two accused have not contested the charges against them.

The date of the verdict would be announced later, BBC quoted the court official as saying.

The official, Tang Yigan, said Gu and Zhang "did not raise objections to the facts and the charges of intentional homicide".

He said Gu had been "in good shape and mentally stable," throughout the trial.

"The trial committee will announce the verdict after discussion," he said.

According to the court, four other police officers, who were suspected of covering up Gu's son Bogu Kailai's illegal conduct during the investigation into Heywood's death, were also charged with bending the law to achieve personal benefit.

The court will hold an open trial for the officers on Friday.

Heywood's death was initially recorded as a heart attack.

The involvement of Gu became public in dramatic circumstances after local police chief, Wang Lijun, a close associate of Bo, took shelter in US Consulate in Chengdu and sought asylum fearing reprisals from Bo as he investigated Gu's role in the homicide.

Wang came out of the US mission after a team of central officials assured him of security. Like Bo, he too has been sacked and imprisoned pending investigations.

K J M Varma in Beijing
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