Bogu Kailai sentenced to death with reprieve for intentional homicide

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 Nov. 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.

Xinhua