Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced for Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, has been prosecuted for murder, according to state media. She and a family employee, Zhang Xiaojun, are said to have ‘recently’ faced court proceedings in connection with the suspected murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Heywood was found dead in a hotel in Chongqing last November. He is believed to have been poisoned.
Bo’s fall was followed by greater openness on behalf of authorities about reports involving corruption on an immense scale. Party leaders face the challenge in the run up to a leadership transition that formally starts later this year of managing the corruption scandals in a way that doesn’t damage the Party’s long-term credibility and put at risk its authority to hold a monopoly on political power. Hence the development of an official narrative that Bo and Gu are an exceptional case being handled through ordinary legal proceedings.
Gu’s treatment suggests that the leadership is having to take the process of rule of law seriously even if her trial is a showcase of the claim that nobody in China is above the law. Whether justice or the law will be served in the long term is yet to be determined. As state media put it,
The facts of the two defendants’ crime are clear, and the evidence is irrefutable and substantial. Therefore, the two defendants should be charged with intentional homicide.
The Hefei Intermediate People’s Court has received the case according to law, and will hold a trial on a day to be decided.
Little doubt in this Bystander’s mind about the likely verdicts.