China promises Gu Kailai a fair trial but denies her access to a lawyer


Sacked Chinese politician Bo Xilai, who battled organized crime in Chongqing.

Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, will receive a fair trial for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood, according to Chinese state media.

State media also argued that the case will strengthen people's confidence in the country's legal system, the Guardian reported. China's courts are run by the communist party. 

However, the Washington Post reported that Gu has been denied access to lawyers retained by her family.

Gu and Zhang Xiaojun, an employee of the family, were both charged with "intentional homicide" late Thursday. Last month Gu, who was being interrogated in a government-affiliated facility in northern China, confessed to to poisoning the businessman in order to prevent him from revealing that he had helped her organize illegal foreign money transfers worth billions of dollars. 

Heywood was found dead last November in a hotel room in Chongqing, where Bo Xilai was regional head of the Communist Party. According to official news agency Xinhua, Gu had fallen out with Heywood "over economic interests, which had been intensified." 

BBC News reported that Gu confessed that she poisoned Heywood because she was concerned that Heywood might endanger her son. According to Xinhua, Heywood was a mentor to Bo and Gu's son, 24-year-old Bo Guagua.

The case is extremely sensitive given that Bo, a high ranking Chinese politician, had previously been tipped as a possible addition to the Communist party's top political body. He is currently under investigation for "serious violations of discipline."

City authorities – who Bo commanded at the time – originally attributed Heywood's death to alcohol poisoning, and cremated his body without an autopsy. 

In an editorial carried in other Chinese newspapers, Global Times insisted: "This is a criminal case, and society should see it as one … Every citizen is an ordinary person when sitting in the defendant's seat."

It said the case had "sent a message to society that nobody, regardless of his or her status and power, can be exempt from punishment if he or she behaves unscrupulously, especially if he harms another person's life."

The trial is due to begin on August 7 or 8, Reuters reported, citing one of the lawyers as saying.