Blackmail, Intimidation, and Whiskey Color High-Profile Chinese Murder Saga

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When Gu Kailai's murder trial ended after just seven hours on Thursday, the same-day stories still carried very few details about the crime, but now, thanks to leaks from the courtroom, we finally have a narrative, and it's juicy. The story of British expatriate Neil Heywood's murder in the Chinese city of Chongqing is one of blackmail, intimidation, and whiskey, elements of which we've heard previously, but which has yet to be told as one narrative, until today.

The most comprehensive account of Heywood's killing to which Gu, the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, confessed during the brief trial, can be found in The New York Times. Reporters Edward Wong and Andrew Jacobs based their narrative on a blog post from university student Zhao Xiangcha (translated on George Washington University law professor Donald C. Clarke's blog), who was in court, and corroborated his account with lawyers who were there. Gu acknowledged she killed Heywood by poisoning him after a night of drinking because he threatened her son, Bo Guagua, after a business deal Bo Guagua helped him set up fell through. But do yourself a favor and read The Times' report in full. It's a ripping yarn. 

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Another must-read account is Kathrin Hille's, in The Financial Times, which focuses on Wang Lijun, the chief of police in Chongqing, where Bo Xilai was party chief. Wang's escape to a U.S. consulate in February sparked the scandal that led to Bo's downfall. "Mr Wang was described in court as having helped to cover up the murder, but it was said he at the same time also collected forensic evidence which later helped in the investigation against her," Hille reports. According to The Times' Wong and Jacobs, when Gu told Wang about the killing, he secretly recorded it. After he and Bo Xilai had a falling out in February and Bo demoted him, Wang took the recording to the Americans, kicking off the whole scandal. So now we're finally feeling up to speed on the criminal side of the Bo Xilai scandal. The next step will be a trial for Wang, and then we'll see what happens, if anything, to Bo himself.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.