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Danli Liu

Netizens Skeptical of Gu Kailai’s Commuted Death Sentence

Gu Kailai (谷开来), the wife of former Chongqing mayor Bo Xilai (薄熙来), has been accused and convicted earlier this week of homicide against British national Neil Heywood. Gu received a two year commuted death sentence, which means a death sentenced with a delayed execution.

Gu Kailai leaving her trial earlier this week

The accusations against Gu Kailai can be read in a previous Tea Leaf Nation piece here. At the end the trial, the Hefei People’s Court determined that since Gu used poison to kill others and played a major role in the crime, she should be convicted of intentional homicide. However, given Neil Heywood’s threats to Gu’s son, Gu‘s claim of mental disorders, a guilty plea and Gu’s cooperation in the investigation, the Court decided to postpone the death penalty for two years. Zhang Xiaojun, the accomplice, was sentenced to 9 years in prison.

Netizens reacted to Gu Kailai’s case fervently on Weibo, China’s Twitter. 

Some netizens doubt the execution of the penalty. @Litchee-Pan也叫海伦 wrote, “How is Gu Kailai different from a common murderer? For her, a commuted death sentence means no death sentence.”{{1}}[[1]]薄谷开来和一般杀人犯有什么区别?死缓可能就死不掉了…[[1]] @文軒先生 wrote, “As expected, the well-known Gu Kailai is eventually sentenced to a commuted death sentence. Obviously, after two years, the sentence will change to life in prison. However, her serving time may not exceed 10 years. In the next 9 years, she will be approved for medical treatment overseas. And that’s how it’s done.” {{2}}[[2]]正如人们预料的那样,这位有名的薄太太最终还是被判了“死缓”,显而易见,接下来在服刑两年后改判终身监禁,她服刑的时间可能不会超过10年,谷开来有可能在九年之内获准保外就医。这一切就是这么顺畅.[[2]] Others suspect Gu’s claim of insanity. @囧仔饭 wrote, “Gu Kailai has mental disorders? Does the government really think the public is idiotic?” {{3}}[[3]]薄谷开来患有精神障碍?ZF真当老百姓是2b吗?[[3]] @羽小隹 said that, “Murderers are all insane, because normal people don’t kill people, right?” {{4}}[[4]]杀人的都有精神病,正常人谁去杀人?亲,你们说对吗?[[4]]

However, Gu Kailai’s statement after the judgment was the most popular topic of the online chatter. Gu responded that, “I feel that this judgment is just. It fully embodies our courts’ respect for the law, for the truth, and for the people’s lives.”

@陈则明_房地产研究 wrote, “anyone can pretend to feel regret.” {{5}}[[5]]悔罪都可以装[[5]]Others think Gu Kailai was sarcastically swiping at the court, because she knows her sentence is just an illusion; that the court respected her life at least. @Justin桀骜 said, “It felt like she was criticizing us, in a very indirect way.” {{6}}[[6]]听着绝对感觉是在骂人。。。她骂的很婉约。。。。[[6]]

Speculation aside, it remains to be seen what will ultimately be her fate, and the bigger ramifications for her ousted politician husband Bo Xilai and Chinese politics as a whole. 

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Danli Liu

Danli Liu is a student at Duke University, class of 2015, currently majoring in Economics and Philosophy. She spent all of her life before college in Nanjing. She is interning at an environmental non-profit organization called Population Connection in Washington DC at present.
  • Wayne

    Actually the punishment was actually fair. If Gu Kailai actually did fear for her son’s safety at the hands of Heywood (whether this fear was justified or not), then that would be adequate grounds in almost any judicial system in the world, to avoid the maximum penalty.

    • aka

      Just wondering, do you think there would be a difference, if an ordinary person like me did the same thing? Would I also get delayed death? Maybe, I just don’t know. Thanks

  • Wayne

    Actually the punishment was actually fair. If Gu Kailai actually did fear for her son’s safety at the hands of Heywood (whether this fear was justified or not), then that would be adequate grounds in almost any judicial system in the world, to avoid the maximum penalty.

    • aka

      Just wondering, do you think there would be a difference, if an ordinary person like me did the same thing? Would I also get delayed death? Maybe, I just don’t know. Thanks

  • visionsdepaix

    No mention in your writing of her purchasing a “prison double” ? The picture certainly looks nothing like previous pictures of her…
    http://www.odditycentral.com/news/chinas-rich-can-hire-body-doubles-to-serve-their-prison-time.html

  • visionsdepaix

    No mention in your writing of her purchasing a “prison double” ? The picture certainly looks nothing like previous pictures of her…
    http://www.odditycentral.com/news/chinas-rich-can-hire-body-doubles-to-serve-their-prison-time.html