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The attention-grabbing intentional homicide trial of Bogu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun opened on Thursday in East China's Anhui province.
All seats in the courtroom of the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court in Anhui were occupied when the trial began.
More than 140 people attended the trial, including relatives and friends of the two defendants, relatives and friends of British victim Neil Heywood, diplomats from the British embassy and consulates in China, media representatives, deputies to China's legislature and members of China's political advisory body, as well as members of the general public.
Prosecutors presented evidence and summoned forensic experts to testify, while the defense counsels of Bogu Kailai and Zhang conducted briefings for them, respectively. Legal representatives for the victim's family also presented their opinions.
The trial lasted for about seven hours, and the court announced that the judgment would be delivered on a day that has yet to be announced.
When Hu Quanming, chief judge of the No 1 Criminal Division of the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court, announced the beginning of the trial at 8:30 am on Thursday, Bogu Kailai and Zhang were escorted by marshals to the defendant seat.
Bogu Kailai, nee Gu Kailai, was born on Nov 15, 1958 in Beijing, with her household registration listed in the city's Dongcheng district. She was a practicing lawyer in Beijing.
Zhang Xiaojun was born on Oct 22, 1979 in Guxian County of North China's Shanxi province, and his household registration is listed in Yuzhong district of Chongqing Municipality in Southwest China. He was an employee of the General Office of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
The hearing started at 8:35 am after the chief judge informed the parties of their legal rights during the trial. Du Wei, a prosecutor for the People's Procuratorate of Hefei City, presented the indictment.
According to the indictment, Bogu Kailai and her son, surnamed Bo, had conflicts with Heywood over economic interests. Concerned about Heywood's threat to her son's personal safety, Bogu Kailai poisoned him with the assistance of Zhang.
The People's Procuratorate of Hefei City accused the two defendants of murder by poisoning. With clear facts and substantial evidence, their behavior violated Article 232 of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China; therefore, the two defendants should be held criminally responsible for intentional homicide. The case is a joint offense, with Bogu Kailai as the principal and Zhang Xiaojun as the accessory.
The two defendants made statements on the facts presented in the indictment and confessed to intentional homicide. The prosecutors and the defense counsels cross-examined the two defendants.
Then, the hearing proceeded to the cross-examination of evidence phase. The prosecutors presented their evidence, including the defendants' statements, witness testimonies, material evidence, documentary evidence, records of inquests and examination, expert conclusions and video and audio materials. The prosecutors and defense counsels also debated issues, including the facts, evidence and the application of the law.
The People's Procuratorate of Hefei City pointed out in the indictment that the case is one of intentional homicide that illegally deprived another of life.
The prosecutor said that each citizen's right to life is the most basic and important right. The law of all countries, without exception, puts the protection of the right to life as paramount, which not only shows care for life, but also fully respects human rights. China's Criminal Law, which fully guarantees each citizen's right to life and health, has stipulated severe penalties for intentional homicide. The actions of the two defendants not only caused the victim to lose his life, but also damaged several happy families, bringing destructive social impact that is hard to repair. Everyone is equal before the law. In constructing the socialist society ruled by law, anyone who breaks the law will be held responsible.
When the trial was about to close at 3:10 pm, Bogu Kailai said in her final statement that she accepted all the facts written in the indictment, saying, "This case has been like a huge stone weighing on me for more than half a year. What a nightmare. During those days last November, I suffered a mental breakdown after learning that my son was in jeopardy. The tragedy which was created by me was not only extended to Neil, but also to several families."
"The case has produced great losses to the Party and the country, for which I ought to shoulder the responsibility, and I will never feel at ease. I am grateful to the humanitarian care shown to me by those who handled the case. I solemnly tell the court that in order to maintain the dignity of the law, I will accept and calmly face any sentence and I also expect a fair and just court decision," she said.
Zhang Xiaojun said in his final statement that he confessed his guilt, and would say "sorry" to the relatives of the victim. "I hope the court can give me a chance to take a new lease on life. I really know that I did wrong."
At 3:20 pm, the trial closed. The chief judge announced an adjournment and the judgment will be announced at a later date.