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Beijing promises thorough investigation on Bo Xilai case

Publication Date : 19-04-2012


The Chinese government has promised that it will conduct a thorough investigation into the alleged murder of Briton Neil Heywood and release timely information.

This pledge followed fresh pressure from London for truth, justice and no political interference in the ongoing probe which headlines China's biggest and most mysterious political crisis in years.

The death of Heywood is a "serious criminal case involving the kin and aides of a party and state leader", said a commentary by the official Xinhua news agency yesterday.

It was referring to purged leader Bo Xilai, whose wife Gu Kailai has been named as a suspect in the killing of Heywood last November in a hotel room in south-western Chongqing.

The Xinhua dispatch, available only in English, came just hours after British Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague both held talks with China's propaganda chief Li Changchun during his visit to Britain.

The British leaders demanded a transparent investigation and Li responded that the case was "being examined by the judiciary in full accordance with the rule of law", according to a spokesman for Cameron.

The British Premier also offered London's assistance in the probe but Li did not take it up.

Xinhua said the Communist Party's Central Committee has already made a resolute decision to investigate this scandal, which is a sign of the party's responsibility towards the people.

"Based on the facts made public so far, the Wang Lijun incident is a serious political event that has created an adverse influence both at home and abroad," it added.

Wang Lijun, Bo's former right-hand man, drew global attention to this crisis when he fled from Chongqing to the US consulate in Chengdu on February 6.

He was handed over to Chinese state security, flown to Beijing and has not been seen since.

The former high-profile police chief alleged that Gu and Bo family aide Zhang Xiaojun had murdered Heywood over economic interests.

Both Gu and Zhang have been detained. Bo, who was suspended from the party's Central Committee last week, is believed to be under house arrest.

Speculation has been rife that the British businessman was poisoned, as opposed to original claims that he died from excessive drinking or a heart attack. But many people here remain sceptical of the official claims, believing that they are trumped-up charges to get rid of Bo.

"It is very hard for us to believe that a family member of a high-ranking official will kill because of money. The Bos are extremely rich," said Peking University analyst Zhang Jian.

There have also been plenty of rumours of further political strife circulating in Beijing, including renewed groundless talk of a coup and even the purge of security czar Zhou Yongkang.

But there are growing signs that Bo will be charged with graft, in addition to implications from his wife's alleged homicide and Wang's potentially treasonous act.

The Xinhua commentary cast the entire scandal as part of the party's "anti-corruption drive".

Leading Chinese newspapers have also hinted that Bo's downfall will be tied to tycoon Xu Ming, who disappeared on March15, the day Bo was sacked as Chongqing party boss.

Xu, who owns Dalian-based Shide conglomerate and is a close ally of Bo, is believed to have been detained by anti-graft busters. His chief executive, Chen Chunguo, has also been missing for nearly a month.


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