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Bogu Kailai sentenced to death with reprieve

Updated: 2012-08-20 12:54
( Xinhua)

HEFEI - A Chinese court sentenced Bogu Kailai to death with a two-year reprieve for intentional homicide on Monday.

She was deprived of political rights for life, said the court verdict announced by the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court in east China's Anhui Province.

Zhang Xiaojun, an accessory in the case, was sentenced to nine years in prison.

More than 100 people were present for the court session, including relatives and friends of the two defendants, diplomats from the British embassy and consulates in China, representatives from the media, deputies to China's legislature, members of China's political advisory body, as well as people from all walks of life.

Legal representatives of the family of Neil Heywood, the victim in the case, were also at present.

The proceeding started at 9 a.m. Monday. Hu Quanming, chief judge of the court, announced the verdict after confirming the identities of the defendants.

The court found that, in the latter half of 2011, Bogu Kailai and her son surnamed Bo had conflicts with Heywood over economic interests. Heywood had threatened Bo in e-mails, which made Bogu Kailai fear for her son's personal safety and decide to murder Heywood.

She asked Zhang Xiaojun, then an employee of the general office of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and a family assistant for Bogu Kailai, to invite and accompany Heywood to Chongqing Municipality in southwest China.

On November 13, 2011, Heywood checked into Room No. 1605 of the 16th building of a vacation resort called the Lucky Holiday Hotel in Chongqing.

That evening, Bogu Kailai and Zhang visited Heywood's hotel, bringing along the poison containing cyanide compound which Bogu Kailai had prepared beforehand.

After entering Heywood's hotel room, Bogu Kailai drank wine and tea with him while Zhang waited outside. Later, Heywood became drunk and fell in the hotel bathroom, and then Bogu Kailai called Zhang into the hotel room and took from Zhang the poison he had brought.

Zhang helped Heywood to the hotel bed. After Heywood vomited and asked for water, Bogu Kailai poured the poison into his mouth, which caused his death.

The forensic lab under the Ministry of Public Security confirmed through toxicology tests that the reason for the death of Heywood accords with cyanide poisoning.

According to the court verdict, Bogu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun poisoned an individual to death, constituting the crime of intentional homicide.

The court ruled that Bogu Kailai's criminal offense was odious and led to serious consequences. She played the main role in the joint offense and was the principal criminal. The circumstances of her crime warrant the death penalty.

Seeing that the victim Neil Heywood had used threatening language toward the son of Bogu Kailai, this aggravated the dispute between the two sides.

Expert testimony showed that Bogu Kailai had the capacity to assume full criminal responsibility but suffers from a mental disorder. She fully realized the nature and consequences of her crime, but her power of self-control was weakened.

After she was arrested, Bogu Kailai provided to authorities clues regarding other people's violations of the law and discipline and played a positive role in the investigation and handling of relevant cases; in court, Bogu Kailai pleaded guilty and showed remorse for the crime.

Therefore, the court decided to sentence Bogu Kailai to death with reprieve.

Zhang Xiaojun acted on Bogu Kailai's instructions in this joint crime, serving as an accessory. After he was arrested, Zhang accurately recounted the main criminal facts, pleaded guilty and showed repentance in the trial, which led to the mitigation of Zhang's punishment.

The court meted out the penalty according to law, after full consideration of the comments of both the prosecution and defense, according to a court statement.

After the verdict was delivered, both Bogu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun said they would not lodge appeals. The court was adjourned at 9:20 a.m.

In another development, the Hefei Municipal Intermediate's People's Court on Monday announced the verdict in the case of bending the law for personal gain involving Guo Weiguo, former deputy chief of Chongqing's Public Security Bureau, Li Yang, former chief of the bureau's criminal section, Wang Pengfei, former chief of the bureau's technical detection team and also former chief of the Public Security Sub-bureau of Chongqing's Yubei District, and Wang Zhi, former executive deputy chief of the Public Security Sub-bureau of the municipality's Shapingba District.

The court said in the verdict that clearly knowing there was great suspicion that Bogu Kailai had committed the crime, the four defendants, Guo Weiguo, Li Yang, Wang Pengfei and Wang Zhi, tried to help Bogu Kailai avoid prosecution by fabricating, hiding and destroying evidence, as well as convincing the family members of Neil Heywood to decide not to have an autopsy performed. All of their conduct constituted the crime of bending the law for personal gain.

The crimes committed by the four individuals caused Bogu Kailai's homicidal behavior to be covered up and Bogu Kailai not to be investigated for criminal liability, creating an extremely baneful influence upon society. Therefore, the circumstances of their crimes are especially serious.

The verdict said the crime was a joint offense, with Guo Weiguo acting as the principal, and Li Yang, Wang Pengfei and Wang Zhi as accessories, while Wang Pengfei and Wang Zhi's roles were less important than that of Li Yang.

The four individuals all truthfully confessed the major criminal facts after being apprehended and brought to justice. Guo Weiguo and Li Yang pleaded guilty and showed remorse in court, and Li Yang did not carry out Guo Weiguo's request to destroy key material evidence. In objective terms, this made an important contribution to investigating and solving the case of Neil Heywood's death. Nor did Wang Pengfei and Wang Zhi carry out Guo Weiguo's request to destroy key material evidence, playing a certain role in the investigation and solution of the case.

According to the facts, the nature and the circumstances of the four individuals' crimes, the court, based on the law, sentenced Guo Weiguo and Li Yang to prison terms of 11 years and seven years, respectively, while both Wang Pengfei and Wang Zhi were sentenced to prison terms of five years for their crime of bending the law for personal gain.

The four individuals said in court they will not appeal the sentences.

Yin Chunli, an associate law professor at Anhui University who attended today's court session, said the verdict documents read by the court amply revealed the criminal actions, evidence, as well as legal basis for the rulings.

She said the court ruling was based on law, and the criminals received just punishment for their crimes.

"Legal justice is being upheld," said Wang Xiuqin, a member of the provincial political advisory body of Anhui, who attended the trial and the delivery of the verdict and sentence.

"Everyone is equal before the law. The judicial authorities have made known their stance of safeguarding the dignity of the law," she said.

"These two cases have taught us to revere the law as well as to observe discipline and obey the law," said Yan Lulu, a Hefei resident.

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