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Chinese court hands Gu Kailai death sentence with reprieve

Published on Aug 20, 2012 10:00 AM
A Chinese court on Monday sentenced Gu Kailai to a death sentence with a two-year reprieve after finding her guilty of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood. -- PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - The wife of purged Chongqing boss Bo Xilai has received a suspended death sentence after being found guilty of murdering a British businessman, bringing China's biggest political scandal in decades a step closer towards closure.

Gu Kailai, 53, and family aide Zhang Xiaojun, 33, were charged with fatally poisoning Briton Neil Heywood in a hotel in Chongqing last November. The motive was Gu's fear that the Briton would harm her son Guagua, 24, after they fought over money issues due to a failed overseas property project.

Zhang was also convicted and sentenced to nine years in jail, according to media reports of a verdict announced Monday morning by the Hefei Intermediate People's Court, which tried the pair on Aug 9. Both Gu and Zhang did not contest the murder charge during the one-day court session.

Gu's conviction was widely predicted, given the nearly 100 per cent conviction rate in Chinese courts. But observers had expected her to escape the death penalty, given her confession to the crime and her privileged status as the daughter of a revolutionary general.

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