Expert casts doubt on murder scandal that rocked China

A CHINESE forensic scientist has questioned the cause of death of murdered British businessman Neil Heywood, casting doubt on the official version of a scandal that reached the upper levels of the Communist Party.

In a blog post since removed, Wang Xuemei, a government forensic expert with the top prosecutors’ agency, said official accounts lacked sufficient evidence that Mr Heywood had died from cyanide poisoning, which she described as leaving the body obviously discoloured.

Mr Heywood’s murder last November is a central element of the scandal that led to the fall of senior Chinese politician Bo Xilai. His wife, Gu Kailai, was given a suspended death sentence last month after confessing to murdering Mr Heywood over a business dispute by pouring cyanide into his mouth.

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Ms Wang said she has had no access to the evidence, but pointed out discrepancies in details that have been made public.

She said acute cyanide poisoning usually caused a quick death, with symptoms such as convulsions, coma and a sudden halt in breathing that Gu or her accessory should have described in their account of the crime, but did not. Despite the absence of such testimony, “our court went as far as to accept the conclusion of cyanide poisoning as the cause of death. About this, I feel very pained, very uneasy, very frightened!” Ms Wang wrote.

It is the first time a senior figure has questioned the government’s public version of the messy scandal.

In the official account, Gu’s murder of Mr Heywood in a hotel in Chongqing was initially covered up by Mr Bo’s aide, police chief Wang Lijun. He was jailed for 15 years on Monday.