Lawyers: Murder trial of Bo's wife opens Thursday

Lawyers: Murder trial of Bo's wife opens Thursday

Credit: AFP/Getty Images

This photo taken on March 14, 2012, shows Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai during the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Bo Xilai, the charismatic but controversial Communist Party leader of China's Chongqing metropolis, has been removed from his post, the state news agency Xinhua said. The move, which comes ahead of a major leadership transition in China's ruling party later this year, follows weeks of intense speculation about Bo's future after a key aide reportedly tried to defect to the United States. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

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Associated Press

Posted on August 3, 2012 at 11:01 PM

Updated Friday, Aug 3 at 11:02 PM

BEIJING (AP) — The murder trial of the wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai will start next Thursday in Hefei city in east China, two lawyers told The Associated Press. The date is a sign the case is advancing before China's once-a-decade political transition.

The lawyers close to the case spoke Friday to AP on condition of anonymity because Chinese authorities would likely sanction anyone who discloses details about the tightly controlled case.

Gu Kailai and a family aide, Zhang Xiaojun, are accused of poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood, an associate of the Bo family. The official Xinhua News Agency said Gu had a falling out with Heywood over money and worried that her son's safety was threatened.

The murder case is at the center of a political scandal that has highlighted factions in the Chinese leadership ahead of the power handover to a younger generation of leaders later this year. Bo was once considered a strong contender for a seat on the all-powerful, nine-member Politburo Standing Committee.

Heywood's death was initially ruled accidental, but murder suspicions surfaced after the police chief who served under Bo, then the party chief in Chongqing city, made a surprise visit in February to a U.S. consulate, where he apparently divulged information linking Gu to Heywood's death.

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

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