Four Chinese Police on Trial for Covering up Heywood Death

Posted August 10th, 2012 at 1:25 am (UTC-5)
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Four Chinese police officials went on trial Friday in the eastern city of Hefei for allegedly trying to help the wife of Chinese politician Bo Xilai cover up the murder of a British businessman.

The four former security chiefs from the southwestern city of Chongqing are accused of helping Gu Kailai hide her role in the suspected poisoning death of Neil Heywood.

Gu did not dispute the murder charge against her during a Thursday hearing at the same courthouse. The closed-door trial ended after just seven hours, with officials saying a verdict will soon be delivered.

As with Thursday's case, independent media were barred from entering the courthouse, which was surrounded by armed guards who blocked the roads surrounding the facility.

Little is known about how the four police officials are connected to the case, other than that they are accused of “bending the law to achieve personal benefit.” Guo Weiguo, Li Yang, Wang Pengfei, and Wang Zhi all held senior security roles in the central city of Chongqing while Bo served as its Communist Party chief.

Analysts say the outcome of the case against the police officials could determine the eventual fate of Bo, who before the scandal seemed destined to become one of China's most powerful politicians.

James Feinerman, the co-director of Georgetown Law School's Asia program, told VOA the purpose of the trial could be to further implicate Bo, leading to his own indictment.

“If you want to conclusively nail down the lid on Bo Xilai's coffin, one of the things you would do is to get these people to admit in open court to having conspired to do this. And then the obvious implication is that Bo Xilai was overseeing this, or was at least informed of what they were doing.”

Many supporters of the charismatic Bo suspect that the case against his wife is part of a wider effort to ruin his political career ahead of a rare leadership transfer in the Communist Party later this year.

The son of a famous revolutionary leader, the charismatic Bo was a top contender for the Politburo Standing Committee, China's top decision-making body, before he was stripped of his posts as the scandal erupted.

Bo, who has not been heard from in months, has not been charged with a crime, but is under investigation for “serious violations of discipline” by the Communist Party.