Bo Xilai’s Wife, Gu Kailai, Indicted for Homicide

July 26, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Ousted Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai
Ousted Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai. (New Epoch Weekly Photo Archive)

Gu Kailai, the wife of a Bo Xilai, a high-level Party official who was deposed in a spectacular power struggle earlier this year, has been formally indicted for homicide. The news was announced in a short notice by Xinhua, the Communist Party mouthpiece.

Gu and an employee of the Bo family, Zhang Xiaojun, will be put on trial for the alleged murder of British businessman and consultant Neil Heywood. Xinhua said that Gu and Zhang had conspired to poison Heywood after Gu thought Heywood had threatened Gu’s son, Bo Guagua. There were “economic disputes” among the three, Xinhua said.

The notice says that the “facts of the crime are clear,” and that the evidence against the two is “reliable and abundant.”

The short announcement contained a number of linguistic idiosyncrasies specific to Chinese communist political notices: Gu Kailai was identified as “Bogu Kailai,” a way of linking her with her disgraced husband, although no one but Xinhua uses that form of identification; Bo Guagua, the son, was identified as “Bo so-and-so” (Bo Moumou) even though most readers are sure to know who is being referred to.

The Hefei People’s Procuratorate, in Anhui Province, instituted proceedings with the Hefei Intermediate People’s Court on July 26, according to Xinhua, which was the cause for the announcement.

No date for the trial was specified, but Reuters cites Bo family lawyer saying it will likely take place on Aug. 7-8.

Bo Xilai is currently still being held by Party investigators, and being taken through the secretive communist process called “shuanggui,” which is reported to often involve interrogation and torture. Bo owed his swift rise in the Party due to his patron Jiang Zemin, the former Party leader, whose policies he instituted unquestioningly. By installing Bo in a central leadership position—and perhaps at the apex of Party power—the faction led by Jiang aimed to ensure Jiang’s legacy by continuing the persecution against Falun Gong practitioners, a violent campaign that Jiang had begun in 1999. Bo, along with another Jiang loyalist Zhou Yongkang, the internal security czar, were reported to have conspired to thwart Xi Jinping’s ascent to power and later install Bo. Zhou’s power was attenuated after he was put under some form of “internal control” for his role in the plot, according to insiders. Analysts say that since Zhou will retire at the Party’s 18th National Congress to be held in the fall, there was no need for the leadership to publicly take him down and stir up another political storm.

Analysts say that in prosecuting the case against Bo, Party officials will use the much less sensational crimes of “violating Party discipline,” rather than the above plotting, as the regime does not want to expose the fragile nature of its rule.

Neil Heywood was a low-level fixer in Bo Xilai’s network, helping to facilitate his son’s Bo Guagua’s education at prestigious schools in England. 

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