Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series of articles on the children of high-ranking Communist Party leaders. This series will appear on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
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LONDON -- In an area in London south of the Thames, the streets are lined with mirror-image two-story terrace houses that share side walls. The area is home to a large population of immigrants. It is also where the 73-year-old mother of slain businessman Neil Heywood lives.
Flowers planted near the entrance of her thin house are withered, showing signs of neglect.
She refuses to talk about her son. She says she has nothing to say to reporters, and shuts the door.
Mysteries remain over Neil Heywood’s death in the Chinese city of Chongqing in November last year. Of particular interest was his relationship with the family of fallen Communist Party star Bo Xilai, who was sacked as party chief of Chongqing in March.
Gu Kailai, Bo’s 53-year-old wife, has been given a suspended death sentence for the murder of the 41-year-old business consultant.
According to a recent report by the state-run Xinhua news agency, Gu testified that Heywood had introduced himself in a letter addressed to her and her son, Bo Guagua, around 2005, expressing his wish to become acquainted with the family.
The report indicated that Heywood’s introduction was made for business purposes.
There are, however, different versions about how and when Heywood, who reportedly had been a resident in China since the 1990s, first came to know the family.
Quoting Heywood’s friends, the Wall Street Journal reported that he became acquainted with Bo, 63, and his wife in the 1990s and arranged for their son’s study in Britain.
This story is incompatible with Gu’s testimony reported by the Xinhua news agency that Heywood first contacted her around 2005, when her son was studying in Britain.
Indeed, it appears likely that Heywood was back in Britain when Bo Guagua began attending school in London around 2000.
Registers and other sources of information published by the British government show Heywood established a consultant business in Britain in April 2000 with capital of 100 pounds (about 12,500 yen). He bought a new house in South London the following month and moved there.
The Xinhua report also said Gu had confessed to murdering Heywood, saying she felt her son’s life was in danger amid trouble over a property deal.
But Bo Guagua graduated from Oxford University in 2010 and was studying in the United States when the British national was killed.
Financial statements of Heywood’s company have not shown any large property deal that could have motivated Heywood to threaten Gu’s son.
Heywood’s friends told the U.S. newspaper that Heywood had been a loyal friend of Bo Guagua, and it was hard to believe the businessman would threaten the son.
Did Chinese authorities try to cover up these and other facts through Gu’s trial for political reasons?
Another person who was close to Gu in Europe may offer clues about the truth.
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The previous installments of this series are available at:
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