China court hands Gu Kailai death sentence with reprieve

August 20, 2012 06:00

HEFEI, China, Aug 20 (Reuters) - A Chinese court on Monday sentenced Gu Kailai to a death sentence with a two-year reprieve after finding her guilty of murdering British businessman Neil Heywood, in a crime that triggered the divisive downfall of Gu's ambitious politician husband, Bo Xilai, a witness to the hearing told Reuters.

The sentence means Gu is likely to face life in prison, provided she does not commit offenses in the next two years.

Gu admitted in court earlier this month to poisoning Heywood last November after a business dispute that she said had led him to threaten her son. The scandal ended the career of Gu's husband, Bo, who ran the southwestern city of Chongqing and was once seen as a contender for a place in China's next Communist Party leadership, which will be announced later this year.

Zhang Xiaojun, a Bo family aide who admitted to helping Gu with the murder, received a 9-year jail sentence, the witness said. Non-official media were not allowed in the courtroom.

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