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China Gives Bo Wife Suspended Death Sentence, Party Seeks Calm

August 20, 2012

Bo Xilai’s Wife Gets Suspended Death Sentence

Gu Kailai, center, the wife of ousted Chinese Politburo member Bo Xilai, shown in this video image as she stands trial in the Hefei Intermediate People's Court in Anhui Province, China, on Aug. 9, 2012. Source: AP Photo/CCTV via APTN

Gu Kailai, the wife of ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai, received a suspended death sentence for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, the lawyer for Heywood’s family told reporters.

Heywood’s family will respect the court’s decision, He Zhengsheng said outside a court in the Chinese city of Hefei, where Gu was tried Aug. 9 for killing Heywood. Gu received a death sentence with a two-year reprieve, He said.

Gu’s sentence concludes one chapter in a scandal that triggered the most serious political upheaval in China since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and shifts attention to how the party will handle Bo’s case. The country’s leaders have sought to cast his downfall as an isolated episode involving an errant senior official ahead of the Communist Party Congress that will choose the next generation of leaders this year.

There was no mention of Bo in the official account of the trial in which the Xinhua News Agency said Gu, 53, confessed. Xinhua recounted her fear that Heywood had threatened her son, highlighting her mental anguish and remorse for causing “great losses” to the party and the country.

She admitted to dripping cyanide into Heywood’s mouth as he lay drunk in a hotel room, and said the time since his death in November had been a “nightmare,” Xinhua said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daryl Loo in Beijing at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at

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