Bo Xilai scandal: Gu Kailai trial for Heywood murder ends

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Media captionThe BBC's John Sudworth in Hefei said the evidence had been described as ''irrefutable and clear''

The trial of Gu Kailai for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood has ended in the Chinese city of Hefei, after one day.

A court official told reporters Ms Gu had not contested the charge that she killed Mr Heywood by poisoning in 2011.

The date of the verdict would be announced later, the official said.

Ms Gu is the wife of former high-flying politician Bo Xilai, whose career in office was ended by the scandal surrounding Mr Heywood's death.

Ms Gu, herself a prominent lawyer, is on trial along with her aide, Zhang Xiaojun, who was described by the court as an accomplice.

Two British diplomats were in court to observe the trial, but no foreign media were given permission to attend.

In an unusual news briefing outside the court, the court official, Tang Yigan, said Ms Gu and Mr Zhang "did not raise objections to the facts and the charges of intentional homicide".

'Ample evidence'

Reading from a statement, Mr Tang said the prosecution alleged that Ms Gu had been involved in a business dispute with Mr Heywood, and believed he had "threatened the personal safety of her son... and decided to kill him".

Image caption The court said Zhang Xiaojun carried the poison which allegedly killed Mr Heywood

The prosecution alleged she had arranged for Mr Heywood to travel to Chongqing from Beijing, accompanied by Mr Zhang.

Ms Gu spent the evening of 13 November with Mr Heywood at the Nanshan Lijing Holiday Hotel, where they drank tea and alcoholic drinks.

"After Heywood became intoxicated, vomited and asked for a drink of water, she poured a poison into his mouth that had been prepared beforehand and that she had given to Zhang Xiaojun to bring along, causing Heywood's death," said the statement.

"The facts of the crime are clear and backed by ample evidence," it said.

Mr Tang said Ms Gu had been "in good shape and mentally stable," throughout the trial.

"The trial committee will announce the verdict after discussion," he said.

The two defendants face a possible death penalty if found guilty.

China's state news agency Xinhua later reported that four police officers would go on trial on Friday, accused of trying to protect Ms Gu from prosecution.

Political fall

Mr Heywood's body was found at the hotel in Chongqing in November 2011.

Image caption Bo Xilai had been considered a potential future leader of China

The death was recorded as a heart attack at the time, but four months later Mr Bo's right-hand man, police chief Wang Lijun, fled to a US consulate to allege murder and a massive cover-up.

Bo Xilai was the Communist party head in Chongqing at the time of Mr Heywood's death.

He had been seen as a strong contender for one of China's top jobs, as the country prepares to install a new generation of leaders.

But he was sacked in March and is currently under investigation for unspecified "disciplinary violations.

The BBC's John Sudworth in Hefei says the facts of the case may be as they have been reported by the court, but that there is a strong political element to the story.

The case raises questions about corruption at the highest level, says our correspondent, so it is almost certain that this will be a politically managed trial as well as a criminal one.

The court may take into account mitigating circumstances in its verdict, he adds, including the assertion that Ms Gu had been concerned for her safety and that of her son.

Ms Gu, Mr Zhang and Mr Bo have not been seen in public since April, when the investigation was announced.

One of Ms Gu's supporters, who gave his name as Mr Han, criticised the process of the trial, and said she should have been allowed to choose her own lawyer rather than accept one appointed by the court.

"She should have been granted the right to defend herself to the media," he said.

"I won't accept any verdict before I hear their side of the story."

But there was a mixed reaction on Chinese social media, with many posts expressing satisfaction at the verdict.

"All the corrupt officials try their best to sing the praises of the present system, but I wonder what they say now after they have been tried!" said Lian Zhugen on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

The trial is being held in Hefei, 1,000 km (650 miles) from Chongqing.