China braces for shocking political murder trial
The son of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has told CNN the “facts will speak for themselves” in the case of his mother, who goes on trial Thursday over the murder of a British businessman.
Bo’s wife Gu Kailai, herself a celebrated lawyer, stands accused of murdering British business associate Neil Heywood – a scandal that has rocked China’s ruling Communist party ahead of a once-in-a-decade handover of power.
Chinese state media has said that Gu feared Heywood posed a threat to the safety of her 24-year-old son Bo Guagua.
In an email to CNN, Bo Guagua, who graduated from Harvard University’s prestigious Kennedy School of Government earlier this year, said he had submitted a witness statement to his mother’s defense team.
“As I was cited as a motivating factor for the crimes accused of my mother, I have already submitted my witness statement,” he wrote. “I hope that my mother will have the opportunity to review them.”
“I have faith that facts will speak for themselves,” Bo Guagua said of the trial, which was scheduled to begin in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei on Thursday.
The CNN report, published late Tuesday, said Bo Guagua did not specify what he had written in his witness statement.
Heywood was found dead last November in his hotel room in the southwestern Chinese mega-city of Chongqing, where Bo was Communist Party leader until he was stripped of his post in March.
Bo had been seen as a top contender for a seat on the Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s top decision-making body, until a top aide fled to a US consulate in February and accused Gu of involvement in Heywood’s murder.
The move blew open a political scandal that has exposed deep rifts in the ruling party as the country’s most senior officials prepare to give way to a new generation of leaders later this year.
Seven of the Politburo Standing Committee’s nine members are due to step down as part of the handover.
Bo’s political career has effectively been over since April when the party suspended him from his senior positions and placed him under investigation for violation of discipline – usually code for corruption.
In April, Bo Guagua – who had been criticized for partying and an allegedly extravagant lifestyle – denied reports he drove a Ferrari and said his expensive overseas education was funded by scholarships and family savings.
“I am deeply concerned about the events surrounding my family,” he said at the time in a statement to the Harvard Crimson, the university’s newspaper.
[image via Agence France-Presse]