Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai
Jinan (China), Aug. 23 (Reuters): Fallen Chinese politician Bo Xilai called his wife insane after she testified at his landmark trial today that he knew of money and a villa in the French Riviera that prosecutors say were given to the couple by a businessman friend.
The video and written testimony by Gu Kailai directly contradicted Bo’s robust defence yesterday, and appear to set him up to be found guilty in China’s most dramatic trial since the Gang of Four were dethroned in 1976 at the end of the Cultural Revolution.
“He should know about it all,” Gu said in a video recording shown in court and posted on the court’s microblog, when asked whether Bo knew that she and their son, Bo Guagua, had received money from plastics-to-property entrepreneur Xu Ming.
Bo dismissed Gu’s testimony as the ravings of a madwoman.
“Bogu Kailai has changed, she’s insane, often tells lies,” Bo said, according to transcripts on the court microblog, using Gu’s official but rarely used name. “Under the circumstances of her mental illness, the investigators placed huge pressure on her to expose me. “Her testimony as far as I am concerned, was (given) under psychological pressure, and driven by (hope of) a reduced sentence,” he added.
In written testimony, Gu said she had shown Bo the graphics and slideshows for the design of a villa in Nice, France that was paid for by Xu. Bo asked her about the slideshows and according to Gu, she told Bo about Xu's involvement.
“Therefore he knew that I asked Xu Ming to pay for this villa in France,” Gu said in her written statement.
In the poorly shot video, Gu appeared soft-spoken and composed as she was questioned by a worker from the state prosecutor’s office. She laughed when asked whether she had been coerced into giving evidence.
Gu did not link Bo with Heywood’s murder, but said he was aware she considered the Briton a threat to their son. According to testimony at Gu’s trial, she killed Heywood because he had threatened Guagua after a business dispute with Gu.
Gu said Bo was also aware of her fears about the safety of Guagua, who is now in the US preparing for a law degree at Columbia University. Gu said she was afraid Guagua “would be kidnapped and killed in America”.
“In 2011, Guagua’s personal safety was threatened and Bo Xilai understood this,” she said in her written testimony.
“We drew up a blacklist of suspicious people. One of them was Neil Heywood. I explained all of this to Bo Xilai.”
Bo could face the death sentence, though a suspended death sentence is more likely, which effectively means life imprisonment, or a 20-year term.
Police have arrested one of China’s most prominent rights activists who has called for officials to disclose their wealth, his lawyer said today, raising the stakes in the government’s crackdown on anti-graft campaigners.
The arrest of Xu Zhiyong, who has pushed for greater civil rights, could trigger an international outcry over Beijing's tightening grip of a fledgling movement. It also exposes shortcomings in the government’s drive against corruption.
Western governments have sparred repeatedly with Beijing over human rights and the US raised Xu’s case this month during its annual rights dialogue with China. Xu, the founder of the “New Citizens’ Movement”, advocates working within the system to press for change.