Gu Kailai blames mental breakdown for murder: Xinhua

Police stand guard outside the court in Hefei, Anhui province where four Chinese police officers are on trial.

HEFEI, China: The wife of a former Chinese politician at the heart of a scandal that has rocked the ruling Communist Party has admitted murdering a British businessman and blamed her actions on a “mental breakdown,” state media reported Friday.

Xinhua news agency said that Gu Kailai told her murder trial that she suffered the breakdown after “learning that [her] son was in jeopardy,” in a report released the day four Chinese police officers reportedly confessed to covering up the killing of Neil Heywood.

Gu, who is accused of poisoning the 41-year-old businessman in a hotel room last November when he was drunk, said she would “accept and calmly face any sentence” handed to her by the court, Xinhua said.

She also said she would “shoulder responsibility” for losses to her party and country, the news agency added.

In a statement made to the court at the end of the one-day hearing Thursday, the wife of disgraced former Chongqing Party secretary Bo Xilai said she accepted all the facts written in the indictment, the official agency added.

She told the court the case had been “like a huge stone weighing on me for more than half a year.”

“During those days last November, I suffered a mental breakdown after learning that my son was in jeopardy,” she said, referring to Bo Guagua who is believed to have had a dispute with Heywood over money.

“The tragedy which was created by me was not only extended to Neil, but also to several families.

“The case has produced great losses to the Party and the country, for which I ought to shoulder the responsibility – I will never feel at ease. I am grateful to the humanitarian care shown to me by those who handled the case.

“I solemnly tell the court that in order to maintain the dignity of the law, I will accept and calmly face any sentence and I also expect a fair and just court decision.”

Xinhua added that Zhang Xiaojun, Gu’s co-defendant, had confessed his involvement in the murder and wanted to say “sorry” to the victim’s relatives.

The verdict on Gu will be delivered at a later date – possibly in days or weeks time.

An official said Friday that four policemen had admitted to covering up the killing to protect Gu.

All four were senior police officials in Chongqing, the southwestern Chinese megacity that Bo ran until he was sacked in March, and where Heywood’s body was discovered.

Tang, the official with the Hefei Intermediate Court in eastern China, told reporters their one-day trial had ended late Friday and that a verdict would be given at a later date.

“The defendants admitted that the charge of bending the law for selfish ends was basically correct,” he said of the four, named as Guo Weiguo, Li Yang, Wang Pengfei and Wang Zhi.

The court heard how the officers covered up her involvement in Heywood’s death by “forging interview scripts and hiding evidence,” agreeing to say he died of excessive alcohol consumption.

It is not clear whether Bo, who was one of China’s most senior leaders until his downfall earlier this year, knew about the alleged cover-up, although the hearing was being closely watched for any hints on his likely fate.

Experts say the process has been carefully stage-managed to minimize embarrassment to China’s communist rulers after the scandal exposed divisions in the party.

The party is keen to resolve the crisis before a handover of power after 10 years later this year, when seven senior leaders will stand down.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 11, 2012, on page 8.




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