Heywood case police officers tried

The Bolton News: Neil Heywood was found dead in a secluded Chongqing hotel in November 2011 (AP) Neil Heywood was found dead in a secluded Chongqing hotel in November 2011 (AP)

Four senior Chinese police officers have been tried on charges of helping the wife of one of the country's highest-profile politicians cover up the murder of a British businessman in a scandal that has shaken the highest levels of leadership.

The case was heard in the same court in eastern China's Anhui province where the murder case against Gu Kailai finished in less than a day on Thursday.

Hefei Intermediate People's Court official Tang Yigan said the officers did not dispute the charges against them but Chinese media said no verdict was immediately announced.

Gu, the wife of Bo Xilai, the disgraced former Communist Party boss of the western city of Chongqing, did not contest the charges against her, court officials said.

The verdict against her and a family aide also charged with murder is expected soon. A guilty verdict is all but assured and carries the potential punishment of 10 years in prison up to a death sentence.

The four Chongqing officers are accused of helping Gu cover up her actions during an investigation into business associate Neil Heywood's death last November, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It named them as Guo Weiguo, a former deputy chief of Chongqing's Public Security Bureau, and others prominent in police leadership: Li Yang, Wang Pengfei and Wang Zhi.

Gu's arrest and the removal of her husband as Chongqing party chief in March sparked the biggest political turbulence in China since the putdown of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

The tightly-orchestrated trials this week are a step toward resolving the scandal ahead of the party's once-in-a-decade leadership transition this autumn.

One of China's most powerful and charismatic politicians until he was ousted, Bo, 64, had been considered a possible for the party's all-powerful nine-member Standing Committee when seven new members are appointed at the autumn meeting.

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