Disgraced Chinese Politician's Wife Expected in Court on Murder Charges
Gu Kailai, wife of ousted senior politician Bo Xilai, will face charges of intentional homicide in a court hearing expected to open Thursday in Hefei, the capital of China’s Anhui province.
Zhang Xiaojun, the butler of the once powerful family, is also charged in the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood who was found dead in his hotel room last November.
While the case has huge political repercussions within the Chinese leadership, most Chinese newspapers did not carry the news of the scheduled hearing on Wednesday. Instead, front pages were reserved for news of Tuesday's Olympic performances.
On its front page, the Beijing Evening News printed a picture of Liu Xiang limping off the track, with an aching expression on his face. The headline read “Olympic joy, tears and sadness.” There was no mention in the newspaper of Thursday’s trial.
Such omissions are not uncommon.
Since the scandal started in Chongqing with former police chief Wang Lijun’s request of protection at the U.S. consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu, the Chinese government has sanctioned independent reports on the case and required news outlets to only use brief Xinhua announcements.
The Internet, which has become one of the most vibrant platforms to discuss current events in China, is similarly censored. Searches for the defendants’ names and other details of the case are blocked on microblogs.
Lawyer Li Xiaolin, famous for defending high profile cases of corruption in China, was asked to represent butler Zhang Xiaojun at the trial. After contacting Hefei’s High Court, where the case will be heard, Li’s application was rejected. Li says he will still be in court tomorrow.
“I hope that there will be a fair trial, that is it,” he said adding that so far the case had been handled according to the law.
Sensitive political trials in China are usually held behind closed doors, but a British embassy official said the courts accepted a formal request to have two officials listen to the hearing.