Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, avoids death sentence

The downfall of Bo Xilai
The downfall of Bo Xilai

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Story highlights

  • Wife of disgraced Chinese politician gets life in jail
  • Gu Kailai poisoned British businessman Neil Heywood

(CNN)The wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai will serve life in prison after a Beijing court said her suspended death sentence for murder had been commuted.

In 2012, Gu Kailai, who in happier days had drawn comparisons with Jackie Kennedy, admitted poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood in a hotel room in the mega-city of Chongqing a year earlier.
    Her crime triggered the biggest political scandal to hit China in a generation, a gripping tale of financial skullduggery, betrayal and murder involving one of the country's most elite families.
    Who is Gu Kailai?
    Who is Gu Kailai?

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      Who is Gu Kailai?

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    Who is Gu Kailai? 02:26
    Gu's husband, Bo, once the chief of Chongqing and a member of the politburo that rules China, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013 for abuse of power and bribery. His police chief Wang Lijun was jailed for 15 years for abuse of power and defection after trying to seek refuge in the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu.
    Gu's death penalty was suspended for two years, and, according to a document posted on the website of China's supreme court, it was recommended her sentence be commuted to life imprisonment because she had shown signs of repentance and hadn't committed any further crimes.
    "While serving her sentence, she has abided by prison rules... She has taken part in ideological, cultural and technical studies, and passed relevant tests," the statement said.
    It's customary in China for suspended death sentences to be commuted to life in jail.