Jail for Heywood case whistleblower

First published in National News © by

The Chinese ex-police chief who sparked a divisive political scandal when he disclosed the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood has been jailed for 15 years.

Wang Lijuan was convicted of defection, abuse of power, and other crimes after visiting the US consulate in Chengdu in February and revealing that Mr Heywood, who was found dead in November, had been murdered and that the wife of his boss, senior politician Bo Xilai, was involved.

Gu Kailai was handed a suspended death sentence last month for poisoning Mr Heywood with cyanide in the south-western city of Chongqing, where her husband was chief of the Communist Party.

Wang was sentenced on Monday at the Intermediate People's Court in Chengdu, China's official Xinhua news agency said.

He received a lighter term than the 20 years set out in the sentencing guidelines because of his help in exposing the central element in the scandal.

A family aide was previously jailed for nine years for his part in the death of Mr Heywood.

Mr Bo was dismissed in March as party secretary for Chongqing, having once been considered a strong contender for a top position.

Chinese leaders are now expected to announce whether Mr Bo will face criminal prosecution.

Mr Heywood's death in a hotel last November was initially ruled an accident and put down to alcohol abuse, although his friends insisted he was not a heavy drinker.

Gu's arrest and the ousting of her husband sparked the biggest political turbulence in China since the bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989.

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