The wife of disgraced Chinese political leader Bo Xilai and an orderly working in the couple’s home have been charged with murdering a British businessman, state news agency Xinhua said.
Gu Kailai, a former international lawyer whose husband was one of China’s most promising political leaders until his downfall earlier this year, will face trial for intentional homicide, Xinhua reported in a brief dispatch.
Zhang Xiaojun, previously described as an orderly who worked for the high-flying couple, will also be prosecuted on the same charge, it said, citing authorities.
Xinhua said there was “irrefutable and substantial” evidence that the pair had poisoned Neil Heywood, a British businessman who had commercial dealings with Bo and his wife.
“Investigation results show that Bogu Kailai, one of the defendants, and her son surnamed Bo had conflicts with the British citizen Neil Heywood over economic interests,” said Xinhua, using Gu’s married name.
The pair have been interrogated and will be tried at a court in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei “on a day to be decided”, Xinhua said, adding that their families had been informed.
The scandal, which first came to light in February, has sent shockwaves through the highest echelons of power in China and led to Bo being sacked from his post as Communist Party leader of the megacity of Chongqing.
Analysts say it has exposed deep divisions within the Communist Party ahead of a crucial, once-in-a-decade leadership transition due to take place this autumn.
Bo is thought to be under house arrest and is being investigated for corruption. He has been stripped of his senior positions with the ruling Communist Party, although he remains a member.
Thursday’s announcement came a week after Patrick Devillers, a French architect said to have been close to Gu, traveled to China to assist in the official inquiry.
Bo Xilai was caught up in prostitution scandal with Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang. Ziyi Zhang has since filed a libel suit against Hong Kong’s leading newspaper the Apple Daily and its sister weekly Next Magazine for publishing those claims.