A Chinese court will on Monday issue its verdict in the murder trial of Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced former Communist party leader Bo Xilai, a local government official said.
Experts say a guilty verdict is in little doubt after Chinese state media reported that Gu confessed during the hearing last week to murdering a British businessman, blaming her actions on a mental breakdown.
Murder carries the death penalty in China, but experts have said Gu is likely to be spared execution and will instead serve a long prison sentence.
She is charged with poisoning Neil Heywood, a 41-year-old British man with whom she and her husband had business dealings, after a row over money.
China’s official Xinhua news agency said last week that she acted after Heywood threatened the couple’s son, Bo Guagua.
Heywood’s murder sparked China’s biggest political scandal in years and brought down Gu’s husband Bo, who had been tipped to become one of the ruling Communist party’s top leaders in a ten-yearly power handover later this year.
Political analysts say the fall-out from the scandal has revealed deep rifts at the heart of the Communist party, and that leaders are eager to draw a line under the controversy.
Some observers expect Gu to bear harsher consequences while Bo, who has been placed under investigation for “serious discipline violations”, will be dealt with more lightly after the power transition.