Bo Xilai

Four jailed ex-police officers waive right to appeal in Heywood murder

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 August, 2012, 3:23am

Four former top Chongqing police officers have waived their right to appeal after receiving jail sentences of five to 11 years for helping to conceal the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

The Hefei Intermediate People's Court in Anhui yesterday handed down the sentences.

Guo Weiguo , the former deputy police chief of the southwestern municipality, was jailed for 11 years, while Li Yang , the former head of Chongqing's criminal investigation squad, received seven years.

Wang Pengfei , the former police chief of Chongqing's Yubei district, and Wang Zhi , the deputy police chief in Shapingba district, both pleaded not guilty. They were each sentenced to serve five years in prison.

Wang Yalin , Guo's lawyer, said Guo thought that his conviction was too harsh, but Guo would not be appealing.

However, the lawyer said he believed that Guo's sentence was moderate, especially when considering that the maximum penalty could have been a term of 15 years in jail.

"Actually, when I met Guo on the eve of the sentencing, he had told me that he did not intend to appeal," Wang said.

"I've learned that the lawyers for Wang Pengfei and Wang Zhi had pleaded not guilty on their clients' behalf."

Xinhua yesterday reported that the four defendants had decided against appealing after their verdicts were announced.

Ong Yew-kim, a Hong Kong-based expert on mainland law, said some of the convicts and the court might have reached an agreement.

"Given that the mainland judiciary is far from completely independent, the defendants may have promised not to lodge any appeal and challenge the authority of the Communist Party in exchange for relatively lenient sentences," Ong said.

Xinhua quoted a court official as saying that the four convicts knew there was strong suspicion that Gu Kailai , the wife of Chongqing's former party boss Bo Xilai , had killed Neil Heywood.

They subsequently sought to help Gu avoid prosecution by fabricating, hiding and destroying evidence.

They also convinced Heywood's family not to have an autopsy performed.

The court found that Guo was the principal offender; Li and the two Wangs assisted Guo. Li had a more prominent role in the cover-up than the two Wangs, Xinhua said.

The four men were once close allies of Wang Lijun , Chongqing's former police chief and a former right-hand man of Bo Xilai.

Wang Lijun's attempt to defect to the United States consulate in February triggered the nation's biggest political scandal in decades.