Just as closure of the case seemed definite, the file has been reopened on the back of international pressure and leadership succession. Had it not been for the fall of Gu's husband Bo Xilai, the case may not have been prioritised and managed with great caution. From the little details that have leaked through (deliberately or inadvertently) the apparently tightly controlled court proceedings and media, readers can draw the conclusion that Neil Heywood murdered by poisoning, was not innocent victim but one who is savvy and manipulative.
While some speculate that Gu is made the scapegoat to take Bo's fall, a number of China watchers (not experts) contradict themselves by saying that Bo was doomed. Why not use this as a convenient excuse to get rid of the clan and their underlings? Yet, there are others who believe that Bo could make a comeback. This is unlikely unless he has superhuman power and connections in the next leadership. The high level of publicity may end with an anti-climax whimper with all the protagonists receding to the background, as with many before who had been disciplined, purged or punished for various degrees and types of offences against the party or the people.
China is keen to project a positive image to ensure that the its domestic population and the world perceive that justice prevails in this emerging great power. After all, a judiciary was already well-established in ancient times as far back as the 10th Century, notwithstanding political upheavals and machinations in a huge country. The judges must demonstrate sensitivity, independence and pragmatism in this high profile and divisive case of a generation.
China says Gu Kailai didn't contest murder charge
Though Gu faces possible execution, legal experts say she is likely to be given a commuted death sentence that translates into 10 to 15 years in prison, with her concern for her son's safety providing a mitigating circumstance.
As a high-flying international lawyer married to one of China's most promising and charismatic politicians and with a son at Harvard, Gu Kailai appeared to have it all. Now she is on trial for murder.