Over in a day: the hotly anticipated murder trial - of a former Chinese politician’s wife, accused of poisoning a British man - has ended. Neither Gu Xilai nor her co-accused objected to the charges laid against them in court today and a date for the verdict to be given has yet to be set.
The courthouse in eastern China was surrounded by police, spectators and crowds of journalist this morning not put off by the pouring rain. With nearby roads blocked off as two British diplomats and people - thought to be defendant Gu Xilai’s lawyers - arrived in court.
Married to the disgraced Bo Xilai, Gu is accused with household aide (Zhang Xiaojun, Shang Sho-shun) of poisoning Neil Heywood, a British businessman. Xilai had apparently argued with Heywood over his alleged role in helping her siphon illicit funds worth £3.8bn to friends and family. over business & financial interests, and – thinking he was a threat to her son's safety - she decided to have him killed.
Prosecutors told the court how the two accomplices went to Heywood’s hotel in Chongqing on November 13th last year and drank wine and tea with him. The Deputy Court Director said (quote) “When Heywood was drunk and vomited and wanted to drink water, she then took pre-prepared poison that she had asked Zhang Xiaojun to carry and poured it into Heywood's mouth, killing him”.
The two fled the hotel and when his body was found police said it was because of either excessive alcohol or a heart attack.