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China releases frank report in murder of British man

BEIJING — The Chinese government released an official account Wednesday of the trial of a former police chief that essentially accused disgraced politician Bo Xilai of trying to cover up the murder of a British businessman by his wife.

The account was published by Xinhua, the state news agency, and said the police ­officer, Wang Lijun, told Bo Jan. 28 that his wife, Gu Kailai, was a serious suspect in the murder of the businessman, Neil Heywood. The next morning, Bo, who was the Communist Party chief of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing at the time, scolded Wang and slapped him in the face, the report said.

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Wang, 52, set off one of China’s biggest political scandals in a generation by fleeing to the US Consulate in the nearby city of Chengdu on Feb. 6 and telling diplomats there about Heywood’s murder. The fact that the Chinese government cited that incident in its official report of Wang’s trial, which took place in Chengdu Monday and Tuesday, is the surest sign yet that Bo could be charged with covering up the murder. Bo was dismissed as party chief in March and suspended from his post in the Politburo in April. Xinhua had reported that he was under inves­tigation for ‘‘serious disciplinary violations.’’

But until now, there had been little sign of how the party might deal with his case; some analysts had said Bo might avoid criminal charges and be subject to party disciplinary measures instead.

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