After being sentenced to death, Gu Kailai, wife of former Chinese Politburo member Bo Xilai, had her sentence suspended by the court. She will most likely now face life in prison for last year’s murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.
After the verdict was announced, Gu responded by saying "This verdict is just. It shows special respect for the law, reality and life." Tang Yigan, a court spokesman, announced that the court believed Mr Heywood had threatened Gu's son but not acted on the threats. It also found Gu had been suffering from "psychological impairment", he said.
The British embassy, whose consular officials attended the trial, issued a statement saying it welcomed the fact China had tried those who were identified as being responsible for killing Mr Heywood. We "wanted to see the trials in this case conform to international human rights standards and for the death penalty not to be applied", the statement also said.
An official spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said "We made clear to the Chinese authorities that we wanted to see that case properly investigated. The outcome is a matter for the Chinese authorities."
The sentence marks the end of a trial in China that many deem to be one of the most scandalous in more then 30 years, but the story is far from over. Those that commit murder in China often face the firing squad, and with Gu never denying she killed Heywood, some are left wondering if the trial was simply for show, a way to appease the British government. Others are asking if her husband, Bo Xilai, is somehow connected to the murder and subsequent cover-up, leaving the Chinese government to try and put the situation behind them and cover up any connection to Xilai. Xilai was removed as secretary of the Communist Party's Chongqing branch after the scandal broke.
The questions surrounding Xilai's involvement are certain to remain. His future however is much more in doubt. Chinese political experts doubt China's willingness to prosecute him, citing that his name was never mentioned during his wife's trial. However, if others with evidence implicating Xalai come forward, as police chief Wang Lijun did with evidence showing Gu's involvement, criminal charges could be levied against Xilai.
Perhaps Gu will simply remain in prison for the remainder of her life and the scandal will fade from the memory of many involved. Perhaps, new evidence will surface and Xilai will face a court trial and Chinese officials will be left scrambling to try and limit any resulting fallout. Only time will tell which scenario becomes reality.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com