Scandal in China: Bo Xilai's wife does not contest murder charge
The trial of Gu Kailai, the wife of a Communist Party elite, is the most sensational since the conviction of the Gang of Four more than 30 years ago for crimes during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution in China.
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As the trial took place, police dragged two Bo supporters into an unmarked car after they appeared outside the courthouse, singing patriotic songs that were the trademark of Bo's populist leadership style and condemning the trial as a sham.Skip to next paragraph
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"I don't believe it. This case was decided well in advance," Hu Jiye, a middle-aged man wearing a T-shirt and baseball cap, told foreign reporters at the rear of the court building, which was cordoned off by dozens of police standing in heavy rain.
Hu and his friend were then shoved by plain-clothed police into a car. His companion, also a middle-aged man, struggled, yelling "Why are you taking me? Why are you taking me?"
State censorship of Internet chatter on the trial was swifter than normal on Thursday, with users of China's popular Twitter-like service Sina Weibo playing cat and mouse with censors to discuss the case, using word play to try and get around the controls.
COVER-UP ALLEGATIONS STALK BO
In sketching out the case against Gu for the first time, the court official also revealed that four Chinese policemen had now been charged with trying to protect her from investigation - a development that could prove dangerous for Bo, who has so far not been charged with any criminal offense.
Police sources in Chongqing have said that the former Politburo member tried to shut down the investigation into his wife after being told she was a suspect.
Bo and Gu have been in detention and have not made any comment since Gu was officially accused of murder in April. Bo's supporters see it as part of an attack on his populist brand of politics in Chongqing, which appealed to many of the party's leftists but was seen as dangerous by his enemies in Beijing.
Gu, herself a career lawyer, was defended by a state-appointed lawyer with meager experience in criminal cases.
The state decided who was to represent Gu, denying her the use of a family lawyer – a move that prompted Gu's 90-year-old mother, Fan Chengxiu, to recently complain to the Justice Ministry, according to a source close to the family.
"The answer [from the ministry] was that the legal process did not have to be fully carried out in this case and that Fan should stop pestering them," the source said.
The trial of Gu, glamorous daughter of the ruling Communist Party aristocracy, is the most sensational since the conviction of the Gang of Four more than 30 years ago for crimes during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.
But despite British calls for the case to be handled fairly and to unearth the truth around Heywood's death, her defense was entrusted to two provincial lawyers.
The two lawyers, Jiang Min and Zhou Yuhao, could not be reached for comment but a search of public information showed the more senior attorney, Jiang, is a specialist in financial cases and that neither has any obvious connection to the Bo family.
"I hope that my mother will have the opportunity to review them," added Bo Guagua. "I have faith that facts will speak for themselves." CNN said he did not elaborate.
The trial and sentencing of both Gu and Zhang are widely seen as a prelude to a possible criminal prosecution of Bo, who is being detained for violating party discipline – an accusation that covers corruption, abuse of power and other misdeeds.
Bo, who was a favorite of party leftists by promoting himself as a friend of the poor and an enemy of corruption, was sacked as Chongqing party chief in March after his police chief, Wang Lijun, identified Gu as a suspect in Heywood's death.
On Thursday morning, there was no sign of Gu's elderly mother, nor of any members of Heywood's family in or around the courtroom.