|Gu to be found guilty but spared execution: experts
The wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai is all but certain to be found guilty of murder when she goes on trial Thursday, but will likely escape execution, legal experts say, AFP reports.
China's official news agency Xinhua has already declared that the evidence against Gu Kailai, who along with a family aide is accused of poisoning a British man with whom she and her husband did business, is "irrefutable''.
That, said experts, left little doubt that Gu -- herself a former lawyer -- would be found guilty, and may indicate she has confessed to murdering Neil Heywood, who was found dead last November in his hotel room.
The scandal ended Bo's high-flying political career and exposed deep rifts in the Communist party ahead of a once-in-a-decade leadership handover, and Thursday's trial in the eastern city of Hefei will be China's most watched in years.
But it is expected to be brief at just one or two days, and closed to journalists, although British diplomats will attend -- an extremely rare concession in China.
Margaret Lewis, an expert on Chinese law at Seton Hall University in the United States, said it was unclear whether Gu's government-appointed lawyers would even mount a defence at all.
"It would be absolutely shocking if this case went to trial and there was not a guilty verdict,'' she told AFP by telephone.
"The conviction rate is exceedingly high across the board, even when you don't have tremendous political considerations on the table.''
Communist party authorities ousted Bo as party chief for the southwestern megacity of Chongqing and from the powerful 25-member Politburo in the spring, putting him under investigation for violating party discipline -- usually code for corruption.
The scandal erupted in February when Bo's former right-hand man and police chief Wang Lijun fled to a US consulate to seek asylum after reportedly confronting Bo with information related to Heywood's murder.