HEFEI, China – The wife of a disgraced Chinese politician was given a suspended death sentence today after confessing to killing a British businessman by poisoning him with cyanide in a case that rocked the country’s top political leadership.
A suspended sentence is usually commuted to life in prison after several years.
Sentenced along with Gu Kailai was a family aide who was given nine years’ imprisonment for his involvement in the murder of Neil Heywood, a former family associate, said He Zhengsheng, a lawyer for the Heywood family who attended the sentencing in this eastern China city.
The sentencing closes one chapter of China’s biggest political crisis in two decades, but also leaves open questions over the fate of Gu’s husband, Bo Xilai, who was dismissed in March as the powerful Communist Party boss of the major city of Chongqing.
State media say Gu confessed to intentional homicide at a one-day trial held Aug. 9 under heavy guard. The media reports – the court has been closed to international media – say she and Heywood had a dispute over money and Heywood allegedly threatened her son.