Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.K. wants to “get to the bottom” of the death in China of British businessman Neil Heywood, in his first comments on the case since the wife of a suspended senior Communist Party official was arrested.
“We did ask the Chinese to hold an investigation,” Cameron told a news conference today in Jakarta after talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. “We are pleased they are now doing that and I stand ready to cooperate in any way we can. It is very important we get to the bottom of what has happened in this very disturbing and tragic case.”
Gu Kailai, the wife of suspended Politburo member Bo Xilai, and a personal attendant are “highly suspected” of killing Heywood, who died in Chongqing in November, the official Xinhua News Agency reported late yesterday. Bo served as the top official in Chongqing until last month. The U.K. was originally told that Heywood died of alcohol poisoning.
Bo’s wife and the attendant, Zhang Xiaojun, “have been transferred to judicial authorities on suspected crime of intentional homicide,” Xinhua said. Bo has been suspended from his party posts and is “suspected of being involved in serious discipline violations,” Xinhua said in a separate report.
The U.K. embassy in Beijing asked earlier this year for an investigation into Heywood’s death based on increasing rumors and suspicions, spokesman John Gallagher said on March 26. Gu Kailai and her son were on “good terms with Heywood” and then had “a conflict over economic interests, which had been intensified,” Xinhua reported.
Heywood and the son of Bo and Gu, Bo Guagua, both attended Harrow School in northwest London, with Heywood attending in the 1980s and Bo from 2001 to 2006, Luke Meadows, information officer for the Harrow Association, said in a March 27 e-mail. Heywood, 41, lived in Beijing with his wife and had two children, according to U.K. birth records.
The Communist Party ordered its more than 80 million members to back the moves against Bo and his wife. Central television read the charges against Gu every hour. A commentary on the front page of today’s People’s Daily (PEODOZ), the party’s mouthpiece, urged cadres to “firmly support the correct decision” to investigate Bo.
Bo’s downfall, which comes as China prepares for a once-in- a-decade leadership change this year, is the biggest political upheaval in the country’s top ranks since Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang was purged in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen protests.
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