Bo's fate uncertain after trial

The official account of the murder trial of the wife of a disgraced top Chinese politician made clear that she will be convicted, but never mentioned her once-powerful husband, suggesting the Communist Party wants to distance him from the crime.

The extraordinarily long account by the official Xinhua News Agency said Gu Kailai and a household aide "confessed to intentional murder" in their trial on Thursday in the death of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Gu's husband, Bo Xilai, was one of China's most powerful and charismatic politicians until he was ousted as Communist Party chief of Chongqing city as the scandal surrounding Mr Heywood's death last November unfolded.

The scandal has badly shaken the country's leadership.

Gu's tightly orchestrated trial is a step towards resolving the political turbulence before the country's once-a-decade leadership transition this autumn, and officials are likely to want to prevent the case from further sullying the party's reputation.

Mr Bo, 64, 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 trial with charges possibly including obstructing police work and abuse of power. Thus far, Mr Bo has only been accused of grievous but unspecified rules violations.

In its detailed account of the trial, Xinhua said four Chongqing police officers who had close relations with the family tried to cover up the murder. That statement could indirectly implicate Mr Bo, Beijing lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan said. "The questions are whether he knew about the murder and whether he obstructed the police investigation," Mr Liu said.

The four policemen went on trial on Friday. No further details have been released.

Another possible charge against Mr Bo is corruption, Mr Liu said, noting that Gu reportedly stated that Mr Heywood had threatened the safety of her son over compensation for a failed land project.