Heywood murder trial to begin in China

Aug. 4, 2012 at 11:32 AM
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HEFEI, China, Aug. 4 (UPI) -- The trial of the wife of a disgraced Chinese politician, Gu Kailai, accused of killing a British businessman in southern China, is set to begin, officials said.

Gu Kailai, the wife of ousted Communist Party boss Bo Xilai, is charged in the poisoning death of Neil Heywood, a British business consultant who was found dead in November, The Wall Street Journal reported.

She allegedly did so with the help of her family aide in the belief that he threatened the safety of her son following a "conflict of economic interests."

Experts said Gu is likely to be found guilty, as China has a 98 percent conviction rate, however the severity of her punishment is still up in the air.

She could face the death penalty, but legal experts said she is likely to receive a suspended death sentence, commuted to a life prison sentence.

The British Embassy said two of its diplomats would attend the trial.

"They're attending the trial to fulfill their consular responsibilities to the Heywood family," an embassy spokesman said.

The trial, which will last about two days, is set to begin Thursday in the eastern city of Hefei.

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