Chinese state media say the wife of politician Bo Xilai has confessed to the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood and vowed to accept her sentence.
Xinhua state news agency reported Gu Kailai’s statement Friday, quoting her as saying the case has been “like a huge stone” weighing on her for more than half a year. She said her actions were the result of a “mental breakdown,” but that she accepts responsibility for them.
Xinhua reported on Friday that Gu’s statements were made during her seven-hour trial in the eastern city of Hefei a day earlier.
Also Friday, state media say four Chinese police officers admitted to the Hefei court that they tried to help her cover up the suspected poisoning death last November. Until accusations against Gu emerged this year, Heywood’s death had been reported as possible overuse of alcohol.
The four had served in Bo Xilai’s political stronghold, the southwestern city of Chongqing. Prosecutors said the men forged interview transcripts and hid evidence.
Verdicts are pending in both trials, which were closed to independent media and heavily guarded.
Analysts say the outcome of the case against the police officials could determine Bo Xilai’s eventual fate. Before he lost his political posts in a corruption scandal, he seemed destined to become one of China’s most powerful politicians.
James Feinerman, the co-director of Georgetown Law School’s Asia program, said the purpose of the trial could be to further implicate Bo, leading to his own indictment.
“If you want to conclusively nail down the lid on Bo Xilai’s coffin, one of the things you would do is to get these people to admit in open court to having conspired to do this,” said Feinerman. “And then the obvious implication is that Bo Xilai was overseeing this, or was at least informed of what they were doing.”
Many supporters of the charismatic Bo suspect that the case against his wife is part of a wider effort to ruin his political career ahead of a rare leadership transfer in the Communist Party later this year.
The son of a famous revolutionary leader, the charismatic Bo was a top contender for the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top decision-making body, before he was stripped of his political position.
Bo has not been heard from in months. He has not been charged with a crime, but is under investigation for “serious violations of discipline” by the Communist Party.