Blind Justice:? The case of Gu Kailai.

Gu Kailai, wife of the popularist politician, Bo Xilai, former Provincial Governor of Chongqing, has been given a suspended death sentence for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood. Ms Gu had confessed to the murder, claiming that Mr Heywood had threatened her son, allegedly over a disputed £13m compensation payment Mr Heywood was claiming. Ms Gu’s accomplice, Zhang Xiaojun, was sentenced to nine years.

According to the Telegraph :

However, the court explained it had suspended the sentence in light of Gu’s mental state, her admissions of guilt and remorse, and her cooperation with the investigation.

China’s judiciary isn’t averse to handing out the death sentence, nor implementing it. There is widespread support in China for this modern version of China’s legalist tradition. Public opinion in Britain is generally against the death penalty, and certainly this is government policy. The Times reported that the British government had let known that it did not wish to see the death penalty applied in this case.

I doubt whether the wishes of the British government played much part in the sentencing of Ms Gu; if the British government couldn’t prevent the implementation of the death penalty on a British subject, then it is difficult to imagine it would have much success in influencing the outcome for a Chinese citizen.

There’s a marked cultural difference, one we can recognise and accept as something we agree to disagree upon – in the same way as we do with the US. Yet trying to influence the outcome of Ms Gu’s sentence is perhaps a step too far. Certainly it seems difficult to justify why murderers of British subjects should be exempt from the death sentence! It flies in the face of the treasured belief that justice is blind.

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