Wife of ex-Politburo member Bo Xilai gets reduced life term

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BEIJING (AP) — A Beijing court has commuted the death sentence for the wife of fallen Politburo member Bo Xilai to life in prison, winding down one of the biggest scandals to rock China's political elite in recent years.

Gu Kailai has been serving a suspended death sentence since 2012 after being convicted of the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. In a statement dated Nov. 16 but released online Monday, a Beijing high court said Gu has shown good behavior during prison labor and during "thought, cultural and technical study."

A reduced sentence for the 56-year-old Gu, a former lawyer, has been widely expected but represents another milestone in the fall of one of China's most prominent political families. Gu's husband Bo, once considered a contender for a top post in China's ruling Communist Party, is now serving a life term for corruption and abuse of power.

Bo's political career crashed in 2011 after Heywood, a family friend who had extensive business dealings with the couple, was found dead in a hotel in the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing where Bo served as party secretary. Gu later admitted to poisoning Heywood following a business dispute, while Bo sought to cover up her role in the murder, according to state media.

Bo and Gu's trials were particularly fraught due to their timing shortly before the once-in-a-decade leadership transition at the 18th Party Congress in 2012, when some political analysts had expected Bo to be elevated to the all-powerful Politiburo Standing Committee.

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