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China police chief sought asylum in US, says Chinese media

Wang Lijun, a former police chief now implicated in a scandal involving the poisoning of a British businessman, fled to a nearby US Consulate to request asylum, according to Chinese state media. 

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On Nov. 13, the night she poisoned Heywood in a Chongqing hotel room, Gu called Wang and said she and the Briton had been drinking. About 12 hours later, Gu confessed the murder to Wang, Xinhua said.

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"He told me not to think about it, that from now on I shouldn't concern myself," the account quoted Gu as saying at her trial last month, at which she received a suspended death sentence. Gu testified that "I said 'I'm a bit worried.' He said, 'It will be fine in a week or two.'"

Unknown to Gu, Wang recorded the conversation. He then sent police officers to remove and destroy evidence, including hotel surveillance videos of her on the night of the murder, Xinhua said. He had Heywood declared dead by excessive drinking.

After the body was cremated, Wang called Gu and told her, "It's all gone up in smoke, flown on a crane to paradise," the account said.

Then, they grew estranged. Gu invited the four police subordinates Wang had put in charge of the Heywood case to a banquet. The favor angered Wang, whose cross words soon made their way back to Gu. She stopped seeing Wang. Four of his aides then found themselves under investigation, escalating the conflict between Wang and Gu, Xinhua said.

That led Wang on Jan. 28 to confront the party boss — presumably Bo — about Gu's role in the murder. "After Wang Lijun got slapped, the conflict became public," one of Wang's investigators in the cover-up, Guo Weiguo, later told interrogators.

With strains growing, Wang ordered other subordinates to gather up blood samples from Heywood and other evidence of the murder and had them store the materials and his secret recordings for safekeeping, Xinhua said. Wang was soon shunted aside, relieved of his police duties and reassigned as a vice mayor for the environment, education and other fields. Three more of his aides fell under investigation.

It was in his new vice mayor's role that Wang got an appointment to meet U.S. diplomats at the Chengdu consulate on Feb. 6. He began to talk about his new duties but then said "his personal security was threatened because of his investigation of criminal cases. He asked the United States to provide shelter for him and filled out an application for political asylum," the account said.

It does not say what else Wang told the diplomats. Diplomats in Beijing have said he only discussed the Heywood murder and offered to provide evidence, though he did not carry any, and he spent much of the time on the phone with Chinese officials. On Bo's further involvement, the account is silent.

At Wang's trial, prosecutors acknowledged that his later cooperation helped convict Gu, known in official accounts as Bogu Kailai, a combination of her and her husband's surnames.

It was because of her, Wang told the court, that he covered up the murder.

"After coming to Chongqing, I visited Bogu Kailai's home often, and I thought she treated me quite well. I knew if the case was treated as a homicide, it would be huge. However, to avoid antagonism with Bogu Kailai, I shunned the case," the account quoted Wang as confessing.

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