The wife of Bo Xilai, an ousted Communist Party member in China, has been charged with the murder of a British man with whom she is rumored to have done business. Gu Kailai could face the death penalty if convicted.
The announcement of the murder charges against Gu on Thursday by Chinese state media outlet Xinhua is the latest incident in the saga that saw her husband, Bo, removed from his position as party chief of the large metropolitan area of Chongqing in a scandal that unveiled deep divisions within the Communist Party. Bo was believed to be pushing for a spot as upcoming leadership changes were in the offing.
Gu and a family aide are thought to have poisoned Briton Neil Heywood in November of last year. It is believed Gu had a falling out with Heywood over business matters and that she felt she and her son were in danger. Heywood's death was attributed initially to a heart attack or excessive drinking.
Gu has been under investigation for the murder for months, but very few details have emerged about the case.
Following the announcement that Gu would be charged, the British Foreign Office issued a statement welcoming the decision of the Chinese government.
"The details of the ongoing investigation are a matter for the Chinese authorities," the office said. "However we are glad to see that the Chinese authorities are continuing with the investigation into the death of Neil Heywood. We are dedicated to seeking justice for him and his family and we will be following developments closely."
mz/tj (Reuters, AP)