The cold-blooded poisoning of a British businessman at the hands of Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced mainland politician Bo Xilai, was dramatically exposed yesterday as cameras whirred in a Western-style courtroom drama.
Gu herself poured poison down the throat of a sickened Neil Heywood when he asked for water after the pair went on a wine drinking binge, Hefei Intermediate Court in Anhui heard.
The poison had been prepared beforehand, the prosecution said.
The trial ended after seven hours, with Gu choosing not to contest the charge of murder.
Gu, unusually, was referred to by her husband's name - Bo Gu Kailai. She appeared in court next to her aide, Zhang Xiaojun, 33.
Court official Tang Yigan said after the hearing that Gu was "in good shape and mentally stable." He added: "The three-judge panel will announce the verdict after discussion."
The prosecution alleged that Gu arranged for Heywood, 41, to travel to Chongqing from Beijing, accompanied by Zhang.
Gu spent the evening of November 13 last year with Heywood at a hotel in Chongqing during which they drank tea and alcoholic drinks.
"After Heywood became intoxicated, vomited and asked for a drink of water, she poured a poison into his mouth that had been prepared beforehand and that she had given to Zhang Xiaojun to bring along, causing Heywood's death," Tang said at a press briefing after the hearing.
The prosecution alleged that Gu was in a business dispute with Heywood, whom she believed had threatened the safety of her son, Bo Guagua. So she decided to kill him.
Gu's government-appointed lawyer did not challenge the claims, saying she was responsible, but that her cooperation during the investigation should be taken into account.
A lawyer acting for Zhang also did not raise any objection to the charge.
An attorney representing Heywood's close relatives was at the trial. Two British diplomats also attended "to observe the proceedings and fulfill consular responsibilities to the Heywood family," a Foreign Office spokesman said.
Many legal experts expect Gu will receive a jail term of just 10 to 15 years, having cited as a mitigating factor her desire to protect her son, who graduated from Harvard this year.
Political analysts said the trial was presented in a more open and transparent way than in the past.
It was carried on mainland TV news, showing Gu in a dark pants suit and a white shirt being led into court and seated in the dock.
Gu appeared to have gained weight despite her detention.
Bo Xilai is still undergoing a party investigation on suspicion of disciplinary violations. He has not been seen since he was toppled as party secretary of Chongqing in March.
Meanwhile, four police officers suspected of covering up for Gu during the investigation into Heywood's death go on trial in Hefei today.