28/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 06:55

Bo Xilai scandal: Gu Kailai 'admits Neil Heywood murder'

Category: Headlines

Published: 10th Aug 2012 19:22:53

Gu Kailai has admitted murdering British businessman Neil Heywood and blamed her actions on a mental breakdown, Chinese state media report.

The Xinhua news agency said Ms Gu, the wife of former top politician Bo Xilai, had apologised for what she described as the "tragedy" of his death.

She said she would "accept and calmly face any sentence", the agency added.

Ms Gu was charged with the murder of Mr Heywood, who was found dead in November 2011, in a one-day trial on Thursday.

Her aide, Zhang Xiaojun, also admitted his involvement in the murder and wanted to apologise to Mr Heywood's relatives, Xinhua reported.

The prosecution alleged Ms Gu and her son Bo Guagua fell out with Mr Heywood over "economic interests" and that Ms Gu was worried about "Neil Heywood's threat to her son's personal security".

The Xinhua report said that Ms Gu, a prominent lawyer, had addressed the court towards the end of its session, and said: "Those few days last November, when I saw how my son was in danger, I suffered a nervous breakdown. A tragedy happened because of me.

"This case has been like a big stone pressing down on me for the past half year. Looking back now, it has really been like a nightmare."

Xinhua reported that Ms Gu was suffering from depression and was dependent on drugs.

She and Mr Zhang face the death penalty if convicted, but observers say the suggestion that Ms Gu was protecting her son could be used as a justification for a degree of leniency.

Earlier on Friday, four senior police officers admitted charges of covering up evidence linking Ms Gu to the murder, a court official said.

They include Guo Weiguo, former deputy chief of Chongqing's Public Security Bureau, and Li Yang, former chief of the bureau's criminal section, Xinhua news agency said.

Court officials did not specify why the officers had sought to cover up the murder and made no mention of Mr Bo, the Reuters news agency reported.

The dates for the verdicts in both trials are yet to be announced.

According to the prosecution, Ms Gu had met Mr Heywood at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel, where they drank tea and alcoholic drinks. Mr Zhang was also present.

"After Heywood became intoxicated, vomited and asked for a drink of water, she poured a poison into his mouth that had been prepared beforehand and that she had given to Zhang Xiaojun to bring along, causing Heywood's death," a court statement read.

The case appears to have ended the career of high-flying politician Bo Xilai, who had been seen as a strong contender for one of China's top jobs, as the country prepares to install a new generation of leaders.

Seven members of the nine-strong politburo Standing Committee are due to retire soon.

Mr Bo was the Communist party head in the city of Chongqing when Mr Heywood's body was found at a hotel in November 2011.

At the time the death was recorded as a heart attack. But four months later Mr Bo's right-hand man, police chief Wang Lijun, fled to a US consulate to allege murder and a massive cover-up.

Media reports said Mr Wang had since been detained and could be put on trial as early as next week.

Mr Bo was sacked in March and is currently under investigation for unspecified "disciplinary violations".

He has not been seen in public since the investigation into his wife was announced.

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BBC News, 2012. Bo Xilai scandal: Gu Kailai 'admits Neil Heywood murder' [Online] (Updated 10th Aug 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1445641/Bo-Xilai-scandal-Gu-Kailai-admits-Neil-Heywood-murder [Accessed 28th Aug 2014]

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