The day of reckoning has arrived. Gu Kailai, the wife of former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai, stands trial today in Hefei, Anhui for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood along with her housekeeper Zhang Xiaojun.
Gillian Wong of the Associated Press tells us what the scene was like outside the courthouse this morning:
An official at the courthouse confirmed the trial had started after a convoy of black cars entered a side entrance into an underground parking lot. Like most Chinese officials, she refused to give her name. A British diplomat was seen entering the court, but did not comment. International media were not allowed into the court.
Observers say the central leadership’s main objectives in Gu’s trial is to keep the focus tightly on the murder case and not on larger allegations of corruption that could further taint the communist regime. Beijing also will closely orchestrate publicity to try to convince the domestic audience that the trial has been fair and the international community that justice has been served in the slaying of a foreigner.
The morning of the trial began with a steady downpour. Security was tight around the courthouse, with roads around it blocked to car travel. Reporters were asked to present their IDs before being allowed to get close to the building, but police lines were pulled across the main entrance and guarded by officers. Other entrances were similarly guarded. Dozens of plainclothes security officers loitered around the streets. Several special police vans were parked around the building.
In an email exchange with CNN, Gu’s son Bo Guagua said he has “faith that facts will speak for themselves”.
“As I was cited as a motivating factor for the crimes accused of my mother, I have already submitted my witness statement,” he wrote in the e-mail. “I hope that my mother will have the opportunity to review them.”
Jaime FlorCruz of CNN has an interesting interview with Jiang Wenran, who went to Peking University with Bo, on why this case matters.
The Wall Street Journal has a set of pictures to show you what security was like outside the Hefei Intermediate People’s Court.
Below, British diplomats arrive at the courthouse but remain tight-lipped: