Bo Xilai's wife reportedly confesses to murder

Four senior Chinese police officers went on trial Friday on accusations they helped the wife of one of the country's highest-profile politicians cover up the murder of a British businessman.

Spouse of disgraced Chinese politician blames poisoning of British associate on breakdown, state media reports

Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, standing in the witness box during her brief trial on murder charges on Thursday. (AP Photo/CCTV via APTN)

The wife of the disgraced former high-ranking Chinese political figure Bo Xilai has confessed to murdering a British businessman and apologized for the "tragedy" she caused, Chinese state media reported Friday.

The official Xinhua News Agency in its most detailed report on the case said that Gu Kailai and her co-defendant "confessed to intentional murder" at their seven-hour trial the previous day.

Xinhua reported Friday that Gu was depressed and dependent on medication but was aware of what she was doing when she poisoned her business associate Neil Heywood last November after having a dispute over economic interests.

Gu's arrest and the ouster of her husband Bo Xilai as Chongqing party chief in March sparked the biggest political turbulence in China since the putdown of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

Her tightly orchestrated trial was a step toward resolving the scandal before the party's once-a-decade leadership transition this fall.

The court in Hefei in eastern China's Anhui province said a verdict against Gu and the family aide accused as an accomplice would be delivered later. Their trial was followed Friday by the trial of four senior Chinese police officers accused of helping Gu cover up the crime.

Xinhua said Gu accepted all the facts in the indictment, saying: "The tragedy which was created by me was not only extended to Neil, but also to several families."

She repeated that her son was in jeopardy, but did not say why. There have been several reports online after the trial that Heywood had threatened Gu's son, Bo Guagua, over a failed business deal. But the details are not known and Bo Guagua was a graduate student at Harvard when the murder took place.

Xinhua said that family aide Zhang Xiaojun had also confessed and said "sorry" to the relatives of Heywood.

Guilty verdict all but assured

A guilty verdict is all but assured against the two and carries the potential punishment of 10 years in prison up to a death sentence.

One of China's most powerful and charismatic politicians until he was ousted, Bo had been considered a possible for the party's all-powerful nine-member standing committee when seven new members are appointed at the fall congress.

The murder only came to light in February, when former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun suddenly fled to a U.S. consulate and told American diplomats about his suspicions that Heywood had been murdered and that Bo's family was involved.

Bo, 64, the son of a revolutionary veteran, was widely popular among working-class Chinese. But his overt manoeuvring to reach the highest echelons of the Communist Party angered some leaders, as did his bombastic campaigns to bust organized crime and promote communist culture while trampling civil liberties and reviving memories of the chaotic Cultural Revolution.

Bo is in the hands of the party's internal discipline and inspection commission, which is expected to issue a statement about his infractions. That would open the way for a court trial with charges possibly including obstructing police work and abuse of power. Thus far, Bo has been accused only of grievous but unspecified rules violations.