On Monday, Gu Kailai received a suspended death sentence for murdering a British businessman. The extended sentence gives the Communist Party time to take care of a scandal involving her husband, Bo Xilai. Xilai was stripped of his Politburo post during the scandal. Xilai has not been accused of any wrongdoing in the murder of Neil Heywood. Heywood died from cyanide poisoning in November. The suspended sentence for Kailai will more than likely be changed to life in prison after two years. Zhang Xiaojun, an aide for the family, was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Also charged and sentenced in the case were four police officers. Those officers were accused of covering up the crime. They were sentenced to five to 11 years in prison. On August 9, during a one-day trial, Kailai confessed to the crime of intentional homicide after she and Heywood had an argument about money. Kailai said that Heywood reportedly threatened her son. The pair argued when Heywood asked for a commission of multi-millions for a real estate transaction that went sour. Kailai lured Heywood to a hotel, got him drunk and then poured cyanide down his throat.
The ruling issued against Kailai will set the precedent for Xilai, according to Cheng Li, who works at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “If Bo does not get put through the legal process in the next few months, Gu will be seen as a scapegoat,” he said.