China

China court cuts Gu Kailai sentence to life in prison

Gu Kailai in the dock during her trial in 2012 Image copyright CCTV
Image caption Gu Kailai was convicted of killing a British businessman in 2013

A court in the Chinese capital Beijing has commuted the suspended death sentence of Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced former Politburo member Bo Xilai, to life in prison.

The court said Gu showed repentance and "did not commit any crimes" in jail.

Gu was sentenced in 2012 for murdering British businessman Neil Heywood.

Her husband was jailed for life in 2013 for corruption and abuse of power. The cases were China's biggest political scandal in years.

"The aforementioned criminal has recently certainly shown repentance," the court said, adding that she had practiced "thought, culture and technical study."

The statement was dated 11 December but released only on Monday.

It added that she had "obeyed discipline", and "completed labour tasks in a timely manner". As a result she was "eligible for the legal conditions for a commutation".

Correspondents say with good behaviour suspended death sentences are usually commuted to life in prison in China.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Bo Xilai and his wife's cases were among the first of a wave of high profile prosecutions in China

Gu's case was one among several public notices soliciting public objections to reduced sentences.

The other two were former electronics tycoon Huang Guangyu, who was convicted of bribery; and Liu Zhijun, former railways minister who was previously given a suspended death sentence for taking bribes and was partly blamed for a fatal bullet train crash in 2011.

Public consultation for Huang Guangyu closes on Tuesday.

The notices for both Gu Kailai and Liu Zhijun were published on the Supreme People's Court website last month, but were only reported by local media on Monday, several weeks after the end of the consultation period.

The cases were reported shortly after the trial opened of one of China's leading human rights lawyers, Pu Zhiqiang, in Beijing. That trial attracted considerable international attention, particularly after plainclothes security officials aggressively manhandled journalists, diplomats and protesters gathered outside the court.

Gu's case sparked the series of events which brought down her high-flying husband.

Bo Xilai was removed as Communist Party boss of the important metropolis of Chongqing in south-western China, and from the Politburo, which makes key party decisions, in 2012.

During his trial, he claimed that his wife - who testified against him - had gone insane.

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