China releases details of Briton’s murder by politician’s wife


BEIJING — The wife of a disgraced Chinese politician dripped diluted cyanide from a small glass soy sauce bottle into the mouth of her British victim, state media announced Saturday. A report published in five installments by official Xinhua News Agency said Gu Kailai and her assistant had confessed to killing businessman Neil Heywood on Nov. 13 in the south-western city of Chongqing. A verdict will be issued “at a later date,” a court spokesman announced after the seven-hour trial in the eastern city of Hefei on Thursday. Gu and Zhang Xiaojun face from 10 years in prison to the death sentence. A murder conviction normally carries the death penalty, but the latest official account on Saturday alluded to potentially mitigating factors. Gu “had been treated for chronic insomnia, anxiety and depression, and paranoia in the past,” the report said. “She used to take anxiolytics, antidepressants and sedative hypnotic drugs, and she also received combined treatment by taking antipsychotic drugs, but the curative effect was not enduring. “She developed a certain degree of physical and psychological dependence on sedative hypnotic drugs, which resulted in mental disorders.” The 5,000-word report said the alleged motive was an “economic dispute” involving Gu’s son that escalated into blackmail threats. No accusations of money laundering, overseas accounts, bribes or luxuries were aired in court or published on the mainland as the Chinese Communist Party approaches its once-in-a-decade leadership transition this autumn.

Absence of Economic Charges Bodes Well for Bo The “absence of the economic crime charges could be the clearest sign yet that authorities do not plan to criminally prosecute her husband, the former Chongqing party boss, who is believed to still have support within the party,” the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post concluded earlier this week. No charges against Bo have been announced, but the party said it was investigating him for “serious breaches of discipline.” Thursday’s trial of Gu, 53, was the biggest event so far in what many see as the worst crisis to hit the ruling party since a rift before its 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Gu Kailai drank tea and wine with Heywood while Zhang waited outside their hotel room, the Xinhua report said. Heywood’s friends and relatives have been quoted as saying Heywood was a teetotaler. “Later, Heywood became drunk and fell in the hotel bathroom, and then Gu Kailai called Zhang into the hotel room and took the glass bottle of cyanide compound that Zhang was carrying,” the agency reported. In his court testimony, Zhang said he put Heywood on the bed, the state news agency reported. “After Heywood vomited and asked for water, Gu Kailai put the bottle of cyanide compound she had prepared into Heywood’s mouth.” Gu told hotel staff to leave the guest alone after hanging the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door when she left, according to the testimony of a hotel waiter, the report said. Heywood’s mother reportedly told media assembled outside her London home that she would not comment on the case and accused the media of spreading lies about her late son. Chinese media has said Heywood threatened Gu’s son Bo Guagua and his mother, while some foreign media have printed rumors about an extramarital affair.