China sentenced the wife of fallen Politburo member Bo Xilai to death on Monday but suspended her execution, setting the stage for a possible final purge of Bo himself in a scandal that has shaken Beijing ahead of a leadership transition. The sentence means Gu Kailai is likely to face life in jail for murdering British businessman Neil Heywood last year. [Reuters]
Reuters also reports that 4 policemen were also convicted, which points to more problems for Bo Xilai, as it’s now obvious a cover-up was in place.
“Bo Xilai might be tried so that he can be silenced and ensure he can’t stage a comeback,” said the source close to Bo’s family, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But the lack of mention of his name leaves room for him to bargain on what mistakes he has to acknowledge.”
Bo’s downfall has stirred more division than that of any other leader for more than two decades.
To leftist supporters, Bo was a rallying figure for efforts to reimpose party control over dizzying, unequal market growth. But he made foes among those who saw him as an opportunist who wanted to impose his hardline policies on the country.
Bo’s hopes for climbing into China’s next top leadership unraveled after his former police chief, Wang Lijun, fled to a U.S. consulate in early February for about 24 hours and exposed the murder allegations.
Britain requested China not impose the death penalty.