UK & World News
Heywood Death: Trial Adjourned In China
A Chinese court official has said the trial of the wife of one of China's most famous politicians, who is accused of murdering the British businessman Neil Heywood, has ended after one day.
The case has brought sharp focus on the inner wranglings of the ruling Chinese Communist party, with some analysts saying it is the biggest crisis the government has faced since the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Mr Heywood was found dead in his hotel room in the Chinese mega-city of Chongqing last November. For 20 years he had worked in China, introducing British clients to the country's wealthy and powerful.
But it was his contacts with Bo Xilai and Mr Bo's wife Gu Kailai which the Chinese authorities say cost him his life. Gu Kailai and an orderly called Zhang Xiaojun have been charged with Mr Heywood's murder.
When Gu Kailai - famous in her own right as a big-hitting lawyer - was charged a few weeks ago, news agency Xinhua said a police investigation found that she and her son Bo Guagua had "come into conflict" with Mr Heywood over "economic interests".
It claimed as a result she was worried about threats from Mr Heywood over her son's security. The wording of the Xinhua statement was very telling - what those threats are exactly or whether they are true we will probably never know.
Sky News has learnt that a lawyer the family wanted to appoint for Gu Kailai has been refused access to her and to case documents. Instead Gu Kailai has had two lawyers appointed for her by the state.
The precise circumstances of Mr Heywood's death are wrapped up in the bizarre tale of a top policeman who fled to a US consulate, claiming he had information linking Gu Kailai to Mr Heywood's murder.
That was three months after Mr Heywood's body was found - and had former police chief Wang Lijun not made that fateful journey, his death would probably have gone down as nothing more notorious than a British man dying of natural causes whilst overseas.
When Mr Heywood's body was found in his Chongqing hotel room the police said he had died of excessive alcohol or a heart attack.
He was cremated without a post-mortem examination within a few days, apparently with the agreement of his Chinese wife Wang Lulu.
But Wang Lijun not only claimed to have new information about the case linking Mr Heywood's body to Bo Xilai's family, he also said he had DNA evidence taken from Mr Heywood's body - something that he had failed to mention during the previous months.
Mr Wang claimed he had gone to the consulate in fear - believing Bo Xilai wanted to have him killed.
It has been suggested the powerful Mr Bo refused to protect his police chief who was being investigated over corruption allegations.
Two weeks later, Bo Xilai was sacked as party chief of Chongqing and then as a member of the powerful 25-member Politburo.
The government says he is being investigated for as yet unspecified "party indescretions".
For Bo Xilai, who was manoeuvring for a spot on the most powerful top tier of Chinese politicians - the Standing Committee of the Politburo - it was a spectacular fall from grace just months ahead of a once-a-decade leadership change in China.
As Gu Kailai goes on trial accused of poisoning and murdering Mr Heywood, Bo Xilai's fate is still to be announced.
The state has never directly accused him of being involved with the murder - and by dealing with him on his own it is clear the party wants to separate him from the charges against Gu Kailai.
If found guilty Gu Kailai is likely to face a life sentence or the death penalty.
But whatever happens to her now, Bo Xilai's career is over. And that is a political convenience which will suit his enemies as China heads into an autumn of political change - in a one-party state which forever fears instability amongst the masses.