Gu Xilai admits to murder in China trial
Beijing: 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 this 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 tomorrow.
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.
While Bo is being investigated by Party apparatus for indiscipline and alleged attempts to protect his wife, Gu was arrested along with the orderly and charged with murder.
The trial is being held in Hefei city even though Heywood murder took place at Chongqing, to avoid any reprisals as Bo, 63 ruled the city as head of the Communist Party of China, (CPC) local unit and built his support base.
Bo was considered to be popular leader there due to his strong campaigns against mafias, making the city crime free.
Security was tight at the building as dozens of uniformed and plain-clothes police were stationed around the court.
The trial took place as China is preparing to install a new generation of leaders, and Bo Xilai had once been seen as a strong contender for one of the top jobs.
Son of former Communist leader Bo was regarded popular for his attempts to revive Mao's ideology highlighting the growing rich-poor divide in present day China.
His moves reportedly irked the present lot of CPC leaders as they are all followers of late moderate leader, Dang Xiaoping, who succeeded Mao after his death and opened China for economic reforms setting aside the socialist economic policies.
The Communist Party Congress which was expected to be held in November to select a new set of leaders to replace President Hu Jintao and others who would be retiring this year after a decade long stint in power.
Known as China's Jacquelyn Kennedy for maintaining high profile, Gu was the Daughter of General Gu Jingsheng, a prominent revolutionary during Mao era who was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution.
She was forced to work in a butcher's shop before resuming her education once the political turmoil eased after Mao's death in 1976.
After studying at Peking University, she qualified as a lawyer in 1988 and opened her own law firm in Beijing.
She was Bo's second wife and closed her law practice after he became Communist Party chief in Chongqing to avoid allegations that she was benefiting from his position.
She also authored a book on fighting a legal action in the US, after representing several Chinese companies in a high-profile case there.
Her son is currently studying in US.