Gu Kailai Gets Suspended Death Sentence

Bo Xilai's wife will likely serve at least 14 years in death of Neil Heywood
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2012 9:39 PM CDT
Updated Aug 20, 2012 4:06 AM CDT
Gu Kailai Gets Suspended Death Sentence for Murder
Lawyer He Zhengsheng, representing British murder victim Neil Heywood, speaks to the mediaat the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court.   (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

The murderous wife of fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai has been given a suspended death sentence. Gu Kailai did not contest charges that she poisoned former Bo family associate and British businessman Neil Heywood, and was convicted of his murder in a one-day trial earlier this month. A suspended death sentence in China is typically commuted to life in prison after two years, notes AP. Gu is expected to serve at least 14 years, reports the BBC. It's unclear what will happen to Bo, who was booted earlier this year as Communist Party secretary of the key city of Chongqing amid the biggest scandal to rock the Chinese leadership in decades; he hasn't been seen in public for several months.

Most observers expected that Gu would dodge the death penalty because of her family's status, her record of mental illness, and her claim that Heywood threatened her son, reports the Wall Street Journal. Others speculated that authorities rejected a death sentence because they were concerned it would elicit sympathy for her. Gu argued that she was driven to murder because she suffered a metal breakdown over fear for her son's safety after a business battle with Heywood. A Bo family associate was also handed a nine-year sentence for his role in the murder. (More Bo Xilai stories.)

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