If it has been some "peasant" who killed Heywood, he/she would have been dead by now. This particular show trial, closed to the press and even the British "observers" were not allowed to take notes, was a disgusting sham. The emphasis by the "court" on the woman's mental instability and addiction to drugs - oh, really? And the plea "I only killed him because he was trying to blackmail my son for $22 million dollars we'd promised him." Oh, Poor Mommy Dearest. The protective mommy line of bullshit was spoon fed to the Chinese press and the Chinese public. I wonder what they really think about all this? Of course, they won't be allowed to tell us.
As reported at The New York Times:
By ANDREW JACOBS
China Defers Death Penalty for Disgraced Official’s Wife
Published: August 20, 2012
BEIJING — A Chinese court on Monday handed Gu Kailai, the wife of a disgraced Communist Party leader, a suspended death sentence for killing a British business associate who she reportedly feared was plotting to harm her son. In the Chinese legal system, such a sentence is tantamount to life in prison.
Ms. Gu could have been executed soon after the guilty verdict was announced, although most analysts had thought such a punishment unlikely. The sentence was announced with a two-year reprieve, meaning that the threat of execution would be lifted after two years, contingent upon her good behavior. Some legal experts said she could ultimately serve fewer than a dozen years.
In news footage televised Monday afternoon by the state broadcaster, China Central Television, Ms. Gu stood in the dock and calmly praised the verdict. “The sentence is just and shows immense respect for the law, reality and life,” she said.
The verdict and sentence appear to wrap up one of the more lurid chapters of a sweeping scandal that brought down Ms. Gu’s husband, Bo Xilai, and challenged the Communist Party during a politically delicate, once-a-decade leadership transition that is set to culminate in the fall.
Ms. Gu’s main accomplice, Zhang Xiaojun, a household employee, was sentenced to nine years in prison for what was said to be his limited role in helping Ms. Gu murder the Briton, Neil Heywood, with a cyanide-based poison.
Shortly after the verdict, Tang Yigan, deputy director of the Hefei Intermediate People’s Court in Anhui Province, told reporters that the court had weighed Ms. Gu’s confession, her testimony implicating others and the litany of psychological problems she is reported to have suffered. In the end, however, he said Mr. Heywood’s threats in no way justified her crimes.
He added that the defendants had agreed to not appeal their sentences. [Well of course they did - they're still alive! I expect that some "accident will befall the minion at some point. We all know that's coming.]
He Zhengsheng, the lawyer for Mr. Heywood’s family, told reporters outside the courthouse that he did not object to the sentence. In a statement, the British Embassy said it welcomed “the fact that the Chinese authorities have investigated the death of Neil Heywood, and tried those they identified as responsible,” adding that it had made clear to Chinese officials that it did not want the death penalty to be applied.
Although few questioned Ms. Gu’s role in the murder, rights advocates criticized her prosecution as driven more by politics than by exacting legal procedure. Relatives say she was forced to accept government-appointed lawyers, who did not have access to case files before the trial began.
Communist Party leaders will now turn their attention to Mr. Bo, once an aspirant to the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee and the former party boss of the southwestern municipality of Chongqing.
Mr. Bo incurred the wrath of many prominent leaders who were unnerved by his brash, populist style and his revival of revolutionary songs and sloganeering during his time in Chongqing. He was deposed last spring after a trusted aide, Wang Lijun, entered the United States Consulate in a nearby city and reportedly revealed details of the murder and subsequent cover-up to American officials.
Mr. Bo and Mr. Wang have been detained and are awaiting their fate. Also on Monday, four Chongqing police officials who confessed to helping cover up the murder were sentenced to jail terms of 5 to 11 years.
Legal analysts and political experts said Ms. Gu’s suspended death sentence was most likely calibrated to satisfy the Chinese public and the British government, along with supporters of Mr. Bo. He remains a darling among leftists and certain factions of the leadership who admired his zealous campaign against organized crime and his efforts to address some of the economic disparities that have accompanied three decades of free-market reform.
Although China’s propaganda officials have restricted news media coverage of the case, the murder of Mr. Heywood and prosecution of Ms. Gu have riveted a nation unaccustomed to seeing members of the political elite so publicly exposed. Some historians have likened Ms. Gu’s downfall to that of Jiang Qing, the wife of Mao Zedong who was accused of counterrevolutionary crimes after his death but whose televised show trial in 1980 was far more accessible to the Chinese people.
Ms. Gu’s trial on Aug. 9 was declared “public,” although foreign reporters were blocked from attending. Two British diplomats were allowed in the courtroom, but barred from recording the proceedings or taking notes.
On Monday, nearly all the courtroom seats were filled by government workers who had been dispatched to the hearing, according to one attendee who said she was from the local public security bureau.
The daughter of a revolutionary luminary, Ms. Gu, 53, was among the first generation of lawyers educated after the Cultural Revolution, the decade of social chaos during which schools were closed. As her husband rose through the party hierarchy, she ran a successful law practice and wrote a book on the foibles of American courts — and what she described as the ruthless efficiency of China’s legal system.
More recently, the state news media have portrayed her as a mentally unstable woman addled by antidepressants and “sedative hypnotic drugs.” According to the official Xinhua news agency, the murder plot was hatched after Mr. Heywood threatened Ms. Gu’s son, Bo Guagua, and demanded the return of $22 million he claimed was owed to him after a real estate venture failed.
The official accounts of the crime also sought to place some of the blame on the victim, painting him as a craven businessman who at one point “detained” the son at a residence in Britain, although it provided no details.
Bo Guagua, 24, a recent graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government who is still in the United States, declined to comment on the verdict.
After Mr. Heywood’s threats were revealed, reportedly in an e-mail he sent to the family, Ms. Gu devised a scheme to kill him with animal poison procured from a public market, according to an account of the trial issued by Xinhua. In November, Mr. Heywood, 41, was lured to a hotel room in Chongqing, where Ms. Gu plied him with whiskey and tea.
When he became drunk and began to vomit, Mr. Zhang, the family employee, helped him into bed, prosecutors said. Ms. Gu then took the deadly concoction that Mr. Zhang had been carrying and dripped it into Mr. Heywood’s mouth after he asked for water. She then scattered pills around the room to make it appear that Mr. Heywood had died of a drug overdose.
Two days later, workers at the Lucky Holiday Hotel discovered Mr. Heywood’s body; the police quickly ruled his death the result of excessive drinking and cremated his remains.
Mr. Zhang’s relatively light sentence reflected his limited role; prosecutors said he had participated in the scheme, after initially declining, because of his loyalty to a family that had employed him since 2005.
Both defendants reportedly confessed. According to the account provided by Xinhua and confirmed by several people who sat through the trial, Ms. Gu apologized to the court, saying she had caused “great losses to the party and the country, for which I ought to shoulder the responsibility.” She also described the case as “a huge stone weighing on me for more than half a year.”
Even if it emphasized her psychological troubles, the court did not absolve her, saying she managed to meticulously orchestrate a murder and then planned an elaborate cover-up. He Weifang, a legal scholar, said a suspended death sentence with two-year reprieve was rooted in imperial law. “A suspended death penalty is something that only exists in China,” he said. “Mao thought it was a good idea and wrote it into China’s modern criminal law in the 1950s because he believed that anyone can be educated and reformed.”
Let me see, she "meticulously" orchestrated a cold-blooded murder and then "planned an elaborate cover-up." But she gets a suspended death penalty and - maybe - 12 years in prison. Meanwhile, the Brits have to pretend to be satisfied with this travesty? For the sake of business as usual? Does anyone else out there feel like puking?
I don't even think Jackie Kennedy would have been treated so well.