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Gu Kailai Trial: Murder Trial Of Bo Xilai's Wife Opens Thursday

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n this photo taken on July 30, 2012, books on Gu Kailai , the wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, with her portrait in the cover are displayed at a book shop in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
n this photo taken on July 30, 2012, books on Gu Kailai , the wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, with her portrait in the cover are displayed at a book shop in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

BEIJING — The murder trial of the wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai will start next Thursday in Hefei city in east China, two lawyers told The Associated Press. The date is a sign the case is advancing before China's once-a-decade political transition.

The lawyers close to the case spoke Friday to AP on condition of anonymity because Chinese authorities would likely sanction anyone who discloses details about the tightly controlled case.

Gu Kailai and a family aide, Zhang Xiaojun, are accused of poisoning British businessman Neil Heywood, an associate of the Bo family. The official Xinhua News Agency said Gu had a falling out with Heywood over money and worried that her son's safety was threatened.

The murder case is at the center of a political scandal that has highlighted factions in the Chinese leadership ahead of the power handover to a younger generation of leaders later this year. Bo was once considered a strong contender for a seat on the all-powerful, nine-member Politburo Standing Committee.

Heywood's death was initially ruled accidental, but murder suspicions surfaced after the police chief who served under Bo, then the party chief in Chongqing city, made a surprise visit in February to a U.S. consulate, where he apparently divulged information linking Gu to Heywood's death.

Bo was sacked from his position in March. He is under party investigation for unspecified discipline violations. No formal charges have been brought against Bo.

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