After Gu Kailai show trial, China aims for husband Bo Xilai

Aug 10, 2012

China's 'champagne communist' celebrity politician could face trial after angering party elite, say analysts

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HIS WIFE'S trial for murder lasted just one day, but as he waits to hear what her sentence will be, former provincial governor Bo Xilai must fear that it was just a necessary preliminary to his own, reports The Times.

Gu Kailai spent seven hours in the dock yesterday in the Chinese city of Hefei to enter a 'no contest' plea to the charge that she murdered British businessman, and former family friend, Neil Heywood by feeding him poison after getting him drunk.

International observers are deeply sceptical about the charges and some believe they have been trumped up purely to discredit Gu's husband, whose maverick career has marked him out for destruction by the country's ruling elite.

Sources told The Times that Gu's conviction means it is "highly likely" Bo will face charges - though this may not happen until early next year, and certainly not until the end of the next trials triggered by the murder - those of four policemen.

Four senior police officers from Chongqing - where Bo was once a populist governor - went on trial in Hefei today, accused of covering up Heywood's murder.

When the businessman was found dead last November, his death was initially ascribed to "excessive alcohol consumption", though the court yesterday was told that Heywood rarely indulged. The body was swiftly cremated.

Now the police are accused of "bending the law to show favouritism", helping to protect Gu from being investigated after the death.

Since his wife was accused of the crime, Bo has been "kept in a holding pattern", the paper reports. Officially, he is under investigation for corruption; in fact, he is being kept out of power until he can be charged with something more serious.

A controversial figure in China's rising 'new Left', he seems to have threatened the rest of the country's ruling Politburo not just by his political stance - at odds with the official reformist, pro-free market line - but by his personal popularity, as a charismatic man who enjoyed the trappings of power.

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