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'Sex-and-money' involved in Briton's death in China

London, April 15 - Accounts published on Chinese websites about a British businessman murdered in a hotel claim to expose a sex-and-money scandal behind China's biggest political crisis in a generation, the Daily Mail reported Sunday.

The websites described how Neil Heywood, 41, died from cyanide poisoning after allegedly having an affair with lawyer Gu Kailai, wife of Bo Xilai, seen until recently as a future leader of China.

British diplomats in China were under pressure Saturday to explain why they did not ask questions sooner about the mysterious circumstances of Heywood's death.

It was alleged that Heywood was murdered after helping Gu to siphon nearly 800 million pounds of assets overseas, the Mail said.

He was poisoned last November in a hotel room in the mega-city of Chongqing by a henchman of city party leader Bo, using a lethal dose of potassium cyanide - a poison that kills within minutes in tiny doses, according to the claims.

A city official has allegedly confessed that he prepared the poison and handed it to an employee of Bo, who administered it to Heywood on the party chief's instructions.

It is not known how the poison was given to Heywood - who is understood to have lain dead for up to 36 hours before being discovered by a hotel cleaner.

Then Gu, 53, is said to have wept as she met with Heywood's wife Wang Lulu in a cafe two days after the murder and begged her to agree to have her husband quickly cremated, the Mail added.

Police chief Wang Lijun, who later turned whistleblower and fled to a US consulate seeking asylum, allegedly ordered his officers to record Heywood's death as a heart attack. Bo had those officers who refused to do so imprisoned and tortured, according to the blog accounts.

Internet sites linked to Chinese dissidents revealed that Bo's wife Gu and family employee Zhang Xiaojun had been arrested and were "highly suspected" of the murder of Heywood, although it gave no details of how he was killed.

Charismatic 62-year-old Bo's political career was effectively brought to a close with Tuesday's announcement of his suspension and his wife's arrest over Heywood's murder.

A month earlier, he was deposed as Chongqing party leader after police chief Wang fled to the US consulate in Chengdu, seeking asylum and implicating Bo and his wife in the crime.

The family of Heywood, a suave middle-class Englishman who became close to one of China's top political dynasties, was originally told he had died of a heart attack triggered by excessive drinking, despite the fact he rarely touched alcohol.

--Ind-Asian News Service

snb/vm



-IANS


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