Bo and Gu have been in detention and have not made any comment since Gu was officially accused of murder in April. Bo’s supporters see it as part of an attack on his populist brand of politics in Chongqing, which appealed to many of the party’s leftists but was seen as dangerous by his enemies in Beijing.
Gu, herself a career lawyer, was defended by a state-appointed lawyer with meagre experience in criminal cases.
The state decided who was to represent Gu, denying her the use of a family lawyer — a move that prompted Gu’s 90-year-old mother, Fan Chengxiu, to recently complain to the Justice Ministry, according to a source close to the family.
“The answer (from the ministry) was that the legal process did not have to be fully carried out in this case and that Fan should stop pestering them,” the source said.
The trial of Gu, glamorous daughter of the ruling Communist Party aristocracy, is the most sensational since the conviction of the Gang of Four more than 30 years ago for crimes during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution.
But despite British calls for the case to be handled fairly and to unearth the truth around Heywood’s death, her defense was entrusted to two provincial lawyers.
The two lawyers, Jiang Min and Zhou Yuhao, could not be reached for comment but a search of public information showed the more senior attorney, Jiang, is a specialist in financial cases and that neither has any obvious connection to the Bo family.
Bo and Gu’s son, who is believed to be still in the United States after graduating from Harvard this summer, told CNN in an e-mail that he had submitted a witness statement to the court.
“I hope that my mother will have the opportunity to review them,” added Bo Guagua. “I have faith that facts will speak for themselves.” CNN said he did not elaborate.
The trial and sentencing of both Gu and Zhang are widely seen as a prelude to a possible criminal prosecution of Bo, who is being detained for violating party discipline — an accusation that covers corruption, abuse of power and other misdeeds.
Bo, who was a favourite of party leftists by promoting himself as a friend of the poor and an enemy of corruption, was sacked as Chongqing party chief in March after his police chief, Wang Lijun, identified Gu as a suspect in Heywood’s death.
This morning, there was no sign of Gu’s elderly mother, nor of any members of Heywood’s family in or around the courtroom. — Reuters