Now that the murder trial of Gu Kailai has ended, far more detailed accounts have emerged from inside the courtroom of the case that prosecutors built against Ms. Gu, the wife of one of China’s most ambitious leaders. The accounts show her plotting with allies, including the local police chief, to protect her son from what she saw as the blackmail demands of the British business associate she is believed to have killed.
Prosecutors presented evidence that the Briton, Neil Heywood, had demanded tens of millions of dollars from Ms. Gu’s son, locked him up in a residence in England and sent an e-mail threatening to “destroy” him. In response, Ms. Gu sought help from the local police chief, who refused to go along with her plan to get rid of Mr. Heywood and later secretly recorded her confession after she poisoned Mr. Heywood.
The tale gave a rare glimpse into the darkest corners of a Chinese ruling family. It told of a dramatic struggle between Ms. Gu, 53; her Oxford- and Harvard-educated son, Bo Guagua, 24; and Mr. Heywood, 41, a long-time friend and business associate whose body was found in November in a hotel in Chongqing, the area governed for more than four years by Ms. Gu’s husband, Bo Xilai, a prominent Politburo member.
Ms. Gu and a family aide, Zhang Xiaojun, stood trial on Thursday in Hefei, Anhui Province.
Legal experts say the trial was little more than a forum to present an official narrative of the crime. It also failed to address the towering issue of what Bo Xilai knew of the crime and whether he had a role in its execution or cover-up.
Mr. Heywood’s mother said before the trial that the case was rooted in palace intrigue. People at the trial said the defence lawyers argued that the poison might not have been enough to kill Mr. Heywood, and that he probably died instead from drinking too much alcohol that night. The lawyers also said that Ms. Gu suffered from manic depression and mild schizophrenia.
According to the courtroom accounts, Mr. Heywood, a long-time resident of China, met Bo Guagua in England around 2003. The two became close. Mr. Heywood hoped his relationship with the Bo family would help further his business ambitions in China.
The businessmen later entered into real-estate ventures that included a property deal in France and projects in Chongqing, where Mr. Bo became party chief in late 2007.
Prosecutors said that when the Chinese ventures failed because of political interference, Mr. Heywood last year demanded from Bo Guagua £14-million ($22-million), which was 10 per cent of the money Mr. Heywood had expected to earn if the ventures had succeeded, according to Mr. Li. He added that the prosecutors said Mr. Heywood sent threatening e-mails to the younger Mr. Bo.
Mr. Heywood then locked Mr. Bo up in a residence in England and Mr. Bo called his mother and told her about the abduction.
Back in Chongqing, Ms. Gu asked Wang Lijun, the police chief, for help, but Mr. Wang said he could do nothing. It then occurred to Ms. Gu that she needed to get rid of Mr. Heywood to protect her son, whom she called “little rabbit” in e-mails, prosecutors said.
Ms. Gu spoke with Mr. Wang about trying to frame Mr. Heywood as a drug dealer; but after he refused to take part, Ms. Gu obtained a poison used for dogs or rats.
On Nov. 10, Zhang Xiaojun, 32, a retired soldier who was once a personal assistant to Ms. Gu’s father, flew to Beijing to invite Mr. Heywood to Chongqing.
Ms. Gu told Mr. Wang, the police chief, about her scheme on the afternoon of Nov. 13. Then she had dinner with Mr. Heywood. After dinner, Ms. Gu asked a driver to buy a bottle of Royal Salute whisky. She prepared vials of the poison and handed them to Mr. Zhang. He now knew about the plan and acquiesced because of his history with the Bo family, prosecutors said.
Around 11 p.m., they drove to the secluded Nanshan Lijing Resort, where Mr. Heywood was staying. Ms. Gu went into his room alone and drank whisky with him. He vomited and became woozy. Mr. Zhang came in and handed Ms. Gu the vials of poison. They put Mr. Heywood in bed. When he asked for water, Ms. Gu poured the poison into his mouth. She then spread drugs around the scene, prosecutors said.
The next day, Ms. Gu told Mr. Wang about the murder. He secretly recorded the conversation.
Hotel workers discovered Mr. Heywood’s body on Nov. 15. The police arrived, and Mr. Wang directed the investigation. To cover up Ms. Gu’s crime, he and several officers took away blood samples and other evidence for about a day.
In January, however, Mr. Wang had a falling-out with the elder Mr. Bo, who then demoted him. Mr. Wang drove to the American Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6. He left the next day, and Chinese security officials escorted him to Beijing. Prosecutors said he gave his secret recording to the authorities.
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