A Chinese woman convicted of murdering a British businessman has been given a suspended death sentence.
Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai, admitted poisoning Neil Heywood last year. She claimed a business dispute between them led him to threaten her son.
Responding to the court’s decision, Gu said the verdict was just, adding that it “reflects a special respect toward the law, reality and life”.
The tribunal in Hefei described the crime as “despicable” and deserving of the death penalty, but it suspended the verdict for two years claiming that Gu was mentally unstable. It also concluded that Heywood had made threats against her son but never acted on them.
The sentence means Gu Kailai is likely to serve a time of life in prison, but she could still face execution if she were to commit a new offence over the next two years.
This may not be the final chapter in China’s most sensational trial in three decades. Her husband Bo is accused of using his powerful influence to cover up the murder and could also face criminal charges.
In a separate trial, four policemen were convicted on Monday of having sought to protect Gu from investigation, receiving jail terms of between five and 11 years. It is a development that could prove damaging for Bo because it establishes formally that there was an attempted cover up.
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