China murder case wrapped up in hours

Politician’s wife accused in death

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HEFEI, China — Testimony in China’s most closely watched murder case in decades wrapped up within hours on Thursday as the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai stood accused of luring a British businessman to a hotel, getting him drunk and pouring poison into his mouth.

No verdict or sentence was immediately announced for Gu Kailai, who was tried with a household aide in the death of close family associate Neil Heywood.

The defendants did not contest the murder charges. A guilty verdict is all but assured and could carry a death sentence.

The tightly orchestrated court proceeding marks a step toward resolving the messiest scandal the Communist Party’s leadership has faced in two decades.

Mr. Bo was one of China’s most powerful and charismatic politicians until he was ousted in the spring as the scandal surrounding Heywood’s death unfolded.

Observers say the party’s main objective is to keep the focus tightly on the murder case and not on larger allegations of corruption that could further taint the regime.

International media were barred from the trial at the Intermediate People’s Court in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei.

Details of the case against Mrs. Gu were provided afterward by Tang Yigan, the court’s deputy director.

He said prosecutors told the court that Mrs. Gu sent her aide, Zhang Xiaojun, to meet and accompany Heywood from Beijing to the southern megacity of Chongqing, where Mr. Bo was the Communist Party boss.

Mrs. Gu and Heywood were business associates but had a dispute over economic interests, according to Mr. Tang, whose account matched details from the indictment reported in official media several weeks ago.

Mrs. Gu thought Heywood was a threat to her 24-year-old son, Bo Guagua, and decided to have him killed, said Mr. Tang, who did not specify what sort of threat Heywood posed to the son, a recent Harvard graduate.

On the night of Nov. 13, Mrs. Gu went to Heywood’s hotel and drank alcohol and tea with him.

“When Heywood was drunk and vomited and wanted to drink water, she then took pre-prepared poison that she had asked Zhang Xiaojun to carry, and poured it into Heywood’s mouth, killing him,” Mr. Tang said.

Heywood’s friends and family have said he was never a heavy drinker, and they rejected investigators’ initial conclusion that he drank himself to death.

His body was cremated, and no autopsy was performed.

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