Saturday, August 11, 2012

The trial - Gu Kailai

Please read here about that story - it is somewhat terrible: Tried in One Day, China's Gu Kailai Faces Fate Court Wraps Up in Mere Hours, Says Wife of Deposed Leader Bo Xilai Didn't Contest Charges She Poisoned Briton HEFEI, China—The trial of Gu Kailai, the wife of the disgraced Communist Party official Bo Xilai, began and ended in a single day Thursday with authorities saying she didn't contest charges that she murdered a British businessman by poisoning him when he was drunk. The official account by the court shortly after the seven-hour trial of Ms. Gu and a family aide ended makes a guilty verdict all but certain, though it also appeared to lay the groundwork for Ms. Gu to be spared the death penalty. The Intermediate People's Court in this eastern city said it would deliver its judgment later, without saying exactly when—standard practice for a Chinese court case. In Ms. Gu's first public appearance since her April arrest, state-run China Central Television showed her looking calm in a black pantsuit and white shirt as she entered the court for what many observers see as China's most politically significant trial for more than three decades. She appeared a bit heavier and less glamorous than in photographs of her that have been published in news stories around the world since the scandal broke, most of which were taken between five and 15 years ago—when she and her husband were considered among China's top power couples. In its account of events in November in Chongqing—the southwestern city where Mr. Bo was party chief at the time and where Ms. Gu and a family aide are accused of having murdered Neil Heywood—the court said Ms. Gu's lawyers had asked it to take into consideration several mitigating factors, including what was described as assistance she had provided in other criminal cases. Enlarge Image Reuters Chinese state television showed Gu Kailai, the wife of ousted leader Bo Xilai, being led into court in Hefei on Thursday for her trial, which lasted seven hours. A guilty verdict is expected. It gave no further details. Some party insiders, diplomats and political analysts have suggested she could face a suspended death sentence, commuted later to a life sentence in prison if she provides information about her controversial husband, once seen as a contender for a top leadership post. Chinese authorities have yet to announce whether Mr. Bo, who was dismissed from his party posts and placed under investigation for "serious disciplinary violations" in April, will be dealt with internally by the party or passed to the courts to face criminal charges. The prosecution said that Ms. Gu had asked her family aide, Zhang Xiaojun, to invite and accompany Mr. Heywood from Beijing to Chongqing, according to the court's statement. The trial of Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Communist Party leader Bo Xilai, has ended, but the verdict has yet to be determined. The WSJ's Deborah Kan speaks to City University professor Joseph Cheng about what this trial means for the Communist Party. She then went to the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel where Mr. Heywood was staying and drank alcohol and tea with him in his room on the evening of Nov. 13 last year, the statement quoted prosecutors as saying. Mr. Heywood became drunk and vomited, and when he wanted to drink water, Ms. Gu poured poison into his mouth, the prosecutors were quoted as saying. The Gu Kailai Trial A Limited Look Into the Gu Trial Trial Talk Sneaks Around Censors How Justice Is Served in China British officials have said Chinese police initially said Mr. Heywood died of excessive alcohol consumption, and arranged for him to be cremated quickly without an autopsy. The court's statement quoted prosecutors as saying Ms. Gu had prepared the poison in advance and given it to Mr. Zhang to carry, adding that she was the main culprit and he an accessory. "The accused Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun didn't raise any objections to the facts and the charges in the intentional homicide of which they are accused," the court's statement said. Neither Ms. Gu nor Mr. Zhang, who was seen in the broadcast, had publicly commented on the allegations against them ahead of the trial. The Chongqing Drama See key dates in the mysterious death of Neil Heywood in the Chinese city of Chongqing and the drama surrounding Bo Xilai. View Interactive Players in China's Leadership Purge Read more about the players in the case. View Interactive More photos and interactive graphics The Trial Scene View Slideshow CCTV via Sina Gu Kailai, the wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, appeared in court for her murder trial Thursday. The trial ended shortly after she raised no objection to charges that she administered poison to a British national in the belief that he posed a threat to her son. Ms. Gu's lawyers argued that Mr. Heywood had "a certain responsibility for the cause" of the crime, and that Ms. Gu's "ability to control her own behavior was weaker than a normal person," the statement said without giving further details. Friends of Ms. Gu have said she has a history of depression, and friends of Mr. Heywood have said he had told them she became increasingly paranoid about being betrayed by her friends and advisers in recent years. However, the court's statement suggested Ms. Gu was fit to stand trial, saying: "During the process of the trial, Gu Kailai's physical condition was good, and her mood was stable." Party leaders are anxious to contain the scandal surrounding Mr. Bo, which has thrown China's political elite into turmoil ahead of a once-a-decade leadership change in the fall, according to political analysts and party insiders. The challenge, those people say, is to conclude the scandal in a way that appears both just and credible to a domestic audience, but doesn't draw further public attention to the broader issues of corruption and abuse of power in the party elite. The court's statement provided only a partial account of the day's proceedings, and the British Embassy, which sent two of its diplomats to attend, declined to comment. Foreign media weren't allowed in the courtroom and Ms. Gu's lawyers didn't respond to requests to comment. The court's statement quoted prosecutors as saying Ms. Gu had plotted to kill Mr. Heywood because he had a "conflict of economic interests" with her and her son, and because she believed that the Briton threatened her son's safety. It gave no details of the financial dispute or the threat to her son, Bo Guagua. Friends of Mr. Heywood say he became close to the Bo family in the mid-1990s when he was living in the northeastern city of Dalian, where Mr. Bo was mayor at the time. The trial took place in driving rain in a newly developed part of Hefei, the capital of the eastern province of Anhui, which analysts said had been chosen as the venue because it was easier for authorities to control the proceedings and the public there. Local security forces locked down the courthouse, blocking roads immediately next to it, posting vans with mounted cameras on every corner, and deploying hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes officers to maintain a security cordon round the building. Mr. Bo remains a divisive figure in China, principally because of his controversial policies in Chongqing, which included organizing mass renditions of Mao-era songs. Many local people appeared unaware the trial was taking place as it hadn't been given prominent coverage in state media, although there has been lively discussion on China's microblogs. Members of the public were kept far away from the courthouse Thursday, but one slipped past police and spoke briefly to reporters near the back entrance of the court before being bundled away by uniformed officers. Hu Jiye, from the eastern province of Jiangsu province, expressed support for Mr. Bo and his policies in Chongqing. "We need a leader who can represent the interests of 99% of the common people: Bo Xilai is this person," he said. "It's ridiculous to use a criminal case to negate his development path.…I think Gu Kailai is a victim of a political struggle. Why would Gu Kailai need to kill a foreigner?" Several other members of the public were also bundled away by police after trying to approach the court, or talk to reporters there. After the trial ended, the state-run Xinhua news agency announced that four former Chongqing police officers suspected of covering up Ms. Gu's "illegal conduct" would also stand trial in Hefei on Friday on charges of "bending the law to achieve personal benefit." The officers included Guo Weiguo, the former deputy chief of Chongqing police. The Bo scandal burst into the open after the former chief of Chongqing police, Wang Lijun, sought refuge in a U.S. consulate in February and told U.S. diplomats there, according to people familiar with the matter, that he had evidence that Ms. Gu was involved in Mr. Heywood's murder. Mr. Wang is thought to be in custody.

No comments: