Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, formerly a top contender for the Politburo standing committee, was given a suspended death sentence on Monday, concluding a brief but high-profile murder trial that China watchers said was both a political and criminal proceeding.
According to The New York Times, the verdict handed down by the People's Court was confirmed by the Chinese lawyer who handled prosecution for the murder of British businessman, Neil Heywood. The lawyer said Gu confessed she had planned to kill Heywood with some help from an aide.
That aide, Zhang Xiaojun, was sent behind bars for nine years as the court determined that he was a willing accomplice when Mr Heywood was made to drink a poisoned wine while heavily drunk in a plush hotel in Chongqing, a sprawling Chinese metropolis once ruled by the populist Bo.
Xinhua, China's official news agency, reported that the two defendants owned up to hatching the plot to kill the British national, who Gu said had endangered her son, Bo Guagua.
In her testimony before the court, Gu called the whole episode a nightmare and "a huge stone weighing on me for more than half a year."
The one-day trial was closed to the international media but the courts revealed that Gu has admitted that her actions led to "great losses to the Party and the country, for which I ought to shoulder the responsibility."
Media reports have indicated that that the suspended death sentence meted out to Gu would likely be commuted to life imprisonment after two years, provided she would display good behaviour.
It is likely too that Bo's wife will kept in a state prison facility for 14 years, according to reports by BBC.
The Xinhua news agency labelled the court's decision as reflective of equality in China's justice, proving that "anyone who breaks the law will be dealt with according to the law, with no exceptions," the NY Times reported.
Analysts viewed the ending of the trial drama as both pleasing the Chinese public, who had held Bo in high esteem for his nationalistic and popular style of governance, and to the leadership of the Communist Party, some members of which were reportedly displeased with the rising Chinese politician.
As Gu is set to commence serving her prison term, the trial also marked the demise of Bo's political career following his exclusion from the national leadership earlier, which came after strong speculations that he was a virtual shoo-in.
Bo was banished from public view shortly after his dismissal. It remains to be seen if he will also face charges. His close aide Wang Lijun came forward earlier this year to implicate his boss in the alleged cover-up of the murder, to make Heywood's death appear to have been caused by heart failure.
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