China policemen to go on trial in Bo wife’s case
Hefei: Four police officials are to go on trial in China for trying to protect ousted politician Bo Xilai’s wife, who was on Thursday convicted for the murder of a British businessman.
Agency reports said the dismissed policemen would be tried for "bending the law to show favoritism" by shielding Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, from an inquiry into the death of Briton Neil Heywood.
Gu was accused of poisoning the businessman over a financial deal that went sour, as per a court statement. She did not dispute the murder charge during Thursday's seven-hour, closed-door trial hearing and a verdict will soon be delivered, the statement said.
Heywood's death in November and its alleged cover-up in Bo's stronghold of Chongqing, the southwestern municipality he ran, was central to the torrent of events that toppled him from the Politburo and exposed the ruling Communist Party to its worst upheaval in decades.
The party's priority now is ensuring top-down control before a handover of power to a new generation of leaders this year.
The legal noose is tightening fast on Bo's wife and police involved in investigating the murder case, suggesting there is a danger Bo could himself face charges of masterminding a cover-up and could risk a lengthy jail term.
The South China Morning Post said on Friday that Bo's former Chongqing police chief, Wang Lijun, would stand trial as early as next week in the southwestern city of Chengdu. Wang sought temporary refuge in Chengdu's US consulate in February after sources said he told Bo that Gu was a murder suspect.
Wang's dramatic flight to the US mission triggered the murder scandal that quickly led to Bo's downfall. Until then, Heywood's death had been officially attributed to a possible heart attack brought on by excessive alcohol consumption.
Chinese media stuck to the terse official account of Gu's trial on Friday, despite avid public interest in this scandal that has exposed the fusion of wealth and privilege in China's political elite, and exposed rifts in the party.
Bo, 63, has not been a focus of the proceedings so far. But most experts believe the trial and almost certain conviction of his wife Gu and the four police officers is a prelude to his punishment, which could include a criminal trial.
(With Agency inputs)