Gu Kailai has been sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, according to witnesses at the closed-door hearing.
Gu, the wife of ousted politician Bo Xilai, will most likely face life in jail as long as she commits no offenses in the next two years, reports Reuters. Despite witnesses confirming the sentence, a court official would not immediately confirm it, saying that a news conference would be held shortly to announce the sentence.
During her one day trial on August 9, Gu admitted to poisoning Heywood in November after a business dispute led to him threatening her son, Bo Guagua. He Zhengsheng, a lawyer for the Heywood family, stated that, “We respect the court’s decision.”
He and another witness at the hearing added that Zhang Xiaojun, an aide to the Bo household, was also sentenced to nine years in prison for acting as Gu Kailai’s accomplice in the poisoning of Neil Heywood.
Gu Kailai’s suspended death sentence will likely be commuted to life in prison after several years, according to The Houston Chronicle. Her sentence closes one chapter in China’s largest political crisis in the past 20 years but still leaves open the fate of Gu’s husband, Bo Xilai.
Bo was dismissed in March from his position as the Communist Party boss of Chongqing, a major city in China. At one time, Bo was considered a candidate for a top position in the country’s government but was dismissed for unspecified violations.
Gu Kaiali received her suspended death sentence after she confessed to intentional homicide on August 9. She confessed that she lured Neil Heywood to a Chongqing hotel, got him drunk, then poured cyanide into his mouth. There have been no reports on if her husband will be charged for any of his political misdeeds.