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Chinese politician’s wife spared execution in murder
HEFEI, China — The wife of a disgraced Chinese politician received a suspended death sentence Monday for the murder of a British businessman, as authorities move to tidy up a huge political scandal ahead of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition this fall.
Gu Kailai’s sentencing clears the way for the ruling Communist Party to deal with her husband, Bo Xilai, who was formerly one of China’s most prominent politicians before being stripped of his Politburo post in the scandal.
Mrs. Gu’s suspended sentence will almost certainly be commuted to life in prison after two years, a relatively lenient punishment resulting from her cooperation with investigators and what the court deemed her mental instability at the time of Heywood’s death by cyanide poisoning in November.
Four policemen accused of covering up the crime were given sentences from five to 11 years.
The media reports — the court has been closed to international media — say she and Heywood had a dispute over money and Heywood allegedly threatened her son. State media said the two feuded after Heywood asked for a multimillion dollar commission on a real estate venture that had gone bad.
Mrs. Gu was accused of luring the victim to a Chongqing hotel, getting him drunk and then pouring cyanide into his mouth.
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