Family of Neil Heywood seeks payout over his death
Neil Heywood's wife pushing for compensation from his killer, Bo Xilai's wife, lawyer says
The family of a British citizen murdered on the mainland is seeking compensation of up to 50 million yuan from his convicted killer, the wife of former top leader Bo Xilai, a lawyer with knowledge of the talks said yesterday.
Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was sentenced last year to life in jail for the poisoning of British businessman Neil Heywood in a case that also led to a corruption probe into Bo, once a candidate for the top leadership team.
It is customary for murderers to be ordered to pay court-sanctioned compensation to their victims' families. The source said Heywood's Chinese widow, Lulu, had been pushing for compensation from Gu for herself and their two young children. Lulu and the children are believed to still be living in Beijing.
Bo was sacked as Communist Party chief of Chongqing last year when his wife was named as an official suspect in the November 2011 murder of Heywood, a long-time friend of the couple who also helped their son, Bo Guagua, settle into his studies in Britain.
Bo Xilai is now awaiting trial on charges of corruption, taking bribes and of abuse of power.
Li Xiaolin, a lawyer who has represented Gu's family in the past, said Heywood's family was seeking between 30 million and 50 million yuan (HK$62.85 million) in compensation.
"The talks started last year, but have not reached any agreement yet that I know of," Li said. "Gu Kailai has no money herself."
Money was not being sought from Bo though as he was not mentioned in the verdict for Gu's case, Li said, adding: "Talks are continuing." He said a colleague of his was involved in the talks.
Heywood's mother, Ann Heywood, told The Wall Street Journal there had been no progress towards compensation.
"Given the circumstances of Neil's murder, I have been surprised and disappointed that, despite repeated discreet approaches to Chinese authorities, there has been no substantive or practical response," she said.
She urged China to show "decisiveness and compassion" to ease the effects of his death on the family, especially the children. The Foreign Ministry did not reply to a request for comment.
The law stipulates victims of crime can seek compensation from those convicted of crimes, but does not lay out monetary benchmarks, which are generally decided by the courts depending on ability to pay and the nature of the crime. However, for such a sensitive case as this, the upper echelons of the Communist Party would have to sign off on a compensation deal, making any court involvement moot.