China's Bo Xilai affair: where the case stands
Much about the stunning fall of politician Bo Xilai remains unknown. But the case has fueled Internet rumors and roiled the political waters in China.
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Why would Wang have betrayed his mentor? A few days earlier they had had a falling out; Bo had fired Wang as police chief and demoted him to an innocuous municipal job. According to people familiar with the reopened police investigation into Heywood's death, Bo did so after Wang had shown him the evidence of his wife's involvement.Skip to next paragraph
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Why Wang even brought up the matter with his boss, when it had until then caused no waves, is unclear. But Bo's reaction seems to have made Wang fear for his life and seek protection.
It was not long before the official Xinhua news agency announced that Bo had been removed from his post as head of the Chongqing Communist Party committee.But a month passed before he was fired from its elite 25-member Politburo, suggesting fierce debate over his fate.
In the meantime, stories had begun to appear on Weibo and in foreign media detailing allegations that Gu had made hundreds of millions of dollars selling government jobs in Chongqing, that Bo had seized the assets of businessmen felled by his antimafia campaign and used them to swell municipal coffers, and that Heywood had been a close friend and business partner of Gu's, helping her to invest her millions abroad illegally.
Heywood, a 40-something Englishman with a penchant for cream linen suits, Jaguar cars, and sailing boats, first got to know Bo when Bo was running the city of Dalian, on China's east coast, more than a decade ago. Heywood apparently helped Bo's son Guagua get into Heywood's alma mater, Harrow, the exclusive (and expensive) English private school, and traded on his privileged connections in his role as a business consultant.
The Xinhua report that Gu was a suspect in Heywood's death said only that the two had had "a financial dispute" without giving details of a motive she might have had for killing him. That did not stem a flood of allegations on Weibo that the two had been lovers and that Gu (or Bo) had killed him in a crime passionnel.
Neither Gu nor Bo has yet been charged with involvement in the alleged murder. Bo has been publicly accused only of "grave disciplinary violations" – a party issue, not a legal one. But it is almost inconceivable that Xinhua would declare that Gu had been detained as a murder suspect unless she was going to be formally arrested, charged, tried, found guilty, and sentenced, probably to death. If Bo did seek to block an investigation of his wife, he would be an accessory after the fact, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Public pressure in China for a full accounting of the facts behind Heywood's murder and Bo's fall is not all that the government here has to deal with.
The British authorities have also been demanding a proper investigation of the death since February. Only on April 10, after four British requests, did Beijing inform London of a police investigation.
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