Wang Xuemei, prominent Chinese scientist, casts doubt on Heywood death


Reporters surround He Zhengsheng, a lawyer for Neil Heywood's family, as he leaves the Intermediate People's Court in Hefei, Anhui, China, on Aug. 20, 2012.


Peter Parks

Wang Xuemei, a prominent forensic scientist in the Chinese government's top prosecutor's office, has cast doubts on the officially cited cause of Neil Heywood's murder. 

Heywood, a 41-year-old British businessman, was found dead in a hotel room in November 2011. Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced Communist leader Bo Xilai, was accused of his murder last month and given a suspended death sentence.

Wang has argued in a blog post that there is not adequate evidence to support the official cause Heywood's murder as being by cyanide poisoning, which would have caused Heywood to suffer from "lightning-fast asphyxia, spasms and a heart attack and turned his skin and blood bright red," signs investigators would easily have noticed or that would have surfaced in testimonies, BBC News reported.

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Wang also notes that it is standard Chinese forensic procedure to test for cyanide at a murder scene, but such a test was not presented in court.  

“A serious lack of evidence exists,” Wang wrote in her now-deleted post, “to conclude that Neil Heywood died of cyanide poisoning, as well as any supporting scientific basis," China Digital Times reported.  

Wang is the first female forensic scientist to work for China's highest level prosecution body, and has been celebrated in Chinese media, according to the Guardian. While she had no access to the evidence, she believes there are discrepancies in the details that have been released to the public, the Associated Press reported

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The scientist also outlined Gu's mental health problems, including reported paranoia, and argued that she trusted former police chief Wang Lijun, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for covering up the crime, the Guardian reported

"In other words, Wang Lijun could easily have used Gu to do whatever he wanted to do," Wang wrote. "Who would benefit from Neil Heywood's death?"