Gu Kailai on trial Thursday for Neil Heywood murder in China


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

The woman accused of murdering a British executive in China will go on trial Thursday, lawyers said today.

Gu Kailai’s trial will take place in Hefei; she is the wife of Bo Xilai, once considered a rising star in the Chinese government.

Gu and her assistant face charges in Neil Heywood’s death on Nov. 15, 2011.

She’s facing the death penalty if convicted, but a family friend told CNN that China would likely spare her life after an expedient trial.

China blamed Heywood’s death on excessive drinking and cremated his remains before doctors could perform an autopsy.

More from GlobalPost: Gu Kailai has ‘confessed’ to Neil Heywood’s murder

His body was found in a Chongqing hotel room, the city where Bo was Communist Party chief.

When a Chinese official connected to Bo asked the US Consulate for asylum, the case took new life, BBC said.

Wang Lijun was Chengdu’s police chief and evidently had evidence to incriminate Bo, his former boss.

Allegations are Heywood was poisoned after fighting with Gu about a business deal.

The claims have triggered Bo’s downfall in the Communist Party.

He’s a descendant of the “eight immortals” of China’s Communist revolution; however, the party fired Bo for allegedly flouting party rules, although the party hasn’t charged him with any crimes.

The case is especially sensitive as China embarks on elections this fall, The Associated Press reported.

The Communist Party hands power to a younger generation every decade.

Many journalists and observers said Bo would get one of the coveted nine seats with the Politburo Standing Committee.

More from GlobalPost: UK Foreign Secretary says Heywood wasn’t a spy