The son of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai says he is confident the “facts will speak for themselves” when his mother stands trial for murder Thursday in the country’s most sensational political scandal in decades.
In an email to CNN, Bo Guagua said he has submitted a witness statement to the defense team of his mother, Gu Kailai, who is accused of murdering British businessman and family friend Neil Heywood last November.
Though details of the case are unclear, officials have suggested Gu poisoned Heywood because he made unspecified threats to Guagua. They also say the two may have had disputes over “economic interests.”
The closed-door trial, which begins Thursday in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei, is expected to be discreet, brief and likely to deliver a guilty verdict, as is the case with most criminal trials in China.
But Chinese leaders are especially cautious about the Bo Xilai scandal, which came just ahead of a sensitive once-in-a-decade leadership transition in the Communist Party.
Heywood was found dead in a hotel room in November in the southwest city of Chongqing, where Bo had been Communist Party leader. His death was originally thought to be the result of excessive alcohol consumption and his body was cremated without an autopsy.
But the political crisis erupted in February, when one of Bo Xilai’s top aides fled to a U.S. consulate in Chengdu. Shortly thereafter, Bo Xilai was stripped of his political titles and placed under investigation for what Chinese officials said were “serious disciplinary violations.” Neither he nor his wife have been heard from since.
The scandal has been closely watched by Chinese citizens, many of whom view the trial as an attempt to destroy the political career of Bo Xilai.
The son of a famous revolutionary leader, Bo had been seen as a top contender for the Politburo Standing Committee, China’s top decision making body, when seven of its nine leaders step down later this year.