August 07, 2012
On trial ... Gu Kailai. Photo: Reuters
CHINA will allow British diplomats to attend court when Gu Kailai, the wife of the ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai, goes on trial for the murder of a British businessman on Thursday.
Two officials from the British embassy in Beijing will be given access to the trial, an official of the mission who spoke on condition of anonymity said. Ms Gu was formally charged with ''intentional homicide'' in the death of Neil Heywood, the official Xinhua news agency reported on July 26.
The start of the trial will follow by almost a week the opening of a traditional gathering of the Communist Party's leadership at the seaside resort town of Beidaihe.
The Communist Party is preparing for its once-in-a-decade succession of power, months after the removal of Mr Bo, 63, which was the most serious upheaval in the country's top ranks since the party's general secretary Zhao Ziyang was purged in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Authorities have said the trial will take place on Aug. 9, the British Embassy official said.
Diplomats have been given no indication of how long the trial will last and the court has not indicated they would be able to attend the entire proceedings, the embassy official said.
The official could not confirm whether members of Mr Heywood's family would attend the trial.
Ms Gu, once a well-known lawyer, will stand trial in Hefei, the capital of eastern Anhui province, Xinhua reported.
Mr Heywood was found dead in his hotel room in Chongqing in November.
Ms Gu's alleged involvement in his death was exposed after Mr Bo's former police chief in Chongqing, Wang Lijun, went to the US consulate in Chengdu in February.
He supplied evidence that she and an orderly in the family home, Zhang Xiaojun, had Mr Heywood killed, US officials said. Chinese investigators had initially told British authorities Mr Heywood died of alcohol poisoning.
''The facts are clear and the evidence is firm and adequate,'' Xinhua said in its July 26 report of the charges against Ms Gu. Mr Zhang was also charged.
Ms Gu and her son had a financial conflict with Mr Heywood, which led her to believe he was a threat to her son's safety, Xinhua said.
Mr Bo was removed as Communist Party secretary of the western municipality of Chongqing in March.
In April, he was suspended from the Politburo and accused of serious violations of Communist Party discipline after the allegations about his wife were revealed.
No formal charges have been announced against Mr Bo, who has not been seen in public since the National People's Congress in March.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to requests for comment.