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Trial date set for Bo Xilai's wife

Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, will be tried for the murder of a British businessman on August 9, according to lawyers.

The trial will start next Thursday in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei, according to lawyers, who did not want to be named.

Last week state media reported that Gu Kailai, a former international lawyer, had been charged with intentional homicide in the death of Briton Neil Heywood and would face trial in Hefei. She stands accused of poisoning Heywood, who was an associate of the family.

The case has sent shockwaves through China, as Gu's husband Bo was the Communist Party leader for the southwestern city of Chongqing and one of China's most prominent politicians. He was considered a strong contender for a seat in China's politburo standing committee - the Communist Party's highest body.

China's official news agency Xinhua said last week there was "irrefutable and substantial" evidence that Gu had killed Heywood. Gu apparently had a falling out with Heywood over money and worried that her son's safety was threatened.

Initially, local authorities said Heywood died of excessive drinking until Wang Lijun, Chongqing police chief and Bo's right-hand man, in February went to a US consulate in southern China to seek asylum. He told diplomats there of his suspicions about Bo and his family.

Bo was sacked from his position in March. He is under investigation by the Communist Party for unspecified violations of discipline. No formal charges have been brought against Bo.

ng/ipj (AP, AFP)