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Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, was spared the death penalty on Monday after being found guilty of murdering a British businessman. Technically, she received a death sentence, with a two-year reprieve, which means it will be lifted after two years of good behavior. That makes her sentence the equivalent of life in prison, but The New York Times reports she may serve as few as a dozen years in jail. (In one scenario, she could be out in as few as nine.) Her accomplice, an employee of her household, was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Gu was quoted as saying, "The sentence is just and shows immense respect for the law, reality and life." Both defendants agreed not to appeal the verdict, which was an unusual one for China, since it's rare for a convicted murderer to not be executed.

The verdict closes one chapter in this political scandal, but does not come close to ending the story. Bo remains under investigation by the state and has not been seen in public since being removed from all his official party functions. According to The BBC, he was not even mentioned in the official state media write up of the case, which means he is not being implicated in any way with the murder. He's likely to face his own trial in the near future, however, it's not clear what, if any, criminal charges he might face. The matter could remain a private Communist Party affair, but given the unusually public nature of his wife's trial, it seems unlikely that he'll simply be allowed to fade into the background to never be heard from again.

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

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