UK & World News
Heywood Case: Police Chief Gets 15 Years
The police chief who triggered a murder investigation into the death of a British businessman has been jailed by a Chinese court.
Wang Lijun was sentenced to 15 years in jail for what the Chinese authorities called "bending the law for selfish ends, defection, abuse of power and bribe-taking", according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Wang was the police chief of Chongqing city in southwest China when Neil Heywood was found dead in a hotel room last November.
Initially, the authorities said Mr Heywood had died of natural causes, and that would probably have been the end of the matter had it not been for Wang.
In February 2012, he went to the US Consulate in Chengdu claiming he had new information in the case - accusing the wife of one of China's most famous politicians of murdering Mr Heywood.
His information led to the jailing of Gu Kailai - wife of Chongqing's Communist Party boss Bo Xilai - who admitted poisoning the businessman.
Wang's flight to the US Consulate set in train a series of events which not only led to the re-investigation of Mr Heywood's death, but also brought about the downfall of Bo.
At the time of Mr Heywood's death, he was tipped for a seat at the top table of Chinese politics.
It had been thought he might become part of the so-called Standing Committee - the top nine most powerful politicians running China.
He has now been dumped from his post and is currently being investigated for "party indiscretions".
His fall from grace has cast a huge shadow over the Communist Party as it moves into a once-a-decade leadership transition.
The party wants to distance itself from any sense of party wrong-doing - fearing a public backlash over the reputation of the authorities.
The Communist Party is furious with Wang for running to the Americans, thereby opening up the whole scandal publicly.
Wang's trial took place in the city of Chengdu. The charge against Wang said that he knew Gu Kailai was a murder suspect but "consciously neglected his duty and bent the law for personal claim".
It is thought Wang went to the Americans after falling out with his boss.
Wang was quoted by Xinhua as saying: "As for the crimes that the prosecution has alleged, I understand them, I admit to them and I am repentant for them."
The confessions of guilt and the pattern of the trial for Wang follow that of Gu Kailai who also admitted wrong-doing and signalled her remorse.
There is a sense the Communist Party is carefully choreographing the punishment process of all those involved in the Heywood case.
The next stage involves the fate of Bo Xilai and whether he is dealt with before or after the Congress.
This is the most startling political event in China since the final days of Chairman Mao.
There have been shifts within the leadership over the decades as to the direction the country should take.
But this has exposed the workings of the Communist Party opening up a level of intrigue not seen for a long time.