BEIJING (Reuters) - The son of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai has broken his silence and submitted a witness statement to the murder trial of his mother, CNN said on Wednesday, citing an e-mail from the young man.
Bo Guagua's mother, Gu Kailai, goes on trial on Thursday in one of the most politically sensitive cases in China in decades, accused of murdering a British businessman. Many ordinary Chinese see the charge as part of an attempt to ruin Bo Xilai politically.
Gu, and a Bo family aide, have been charged with murdering Neil Heywood, a former family friend who lived in China and had helped get Guagua into Harrow, an exclusive British boarding school, and then into Oxford University. The trial is being held in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei.
"As I was cited as a motivating factor for the crimes accused of my mother, I have already submitted my witness statement," Guagua told CNN in an email.
"I hope that my mother will have the opportunity to review them," he added. "I have faith that facts will speak for themselves." CNN said he did not elaborate.
Police sources initially claimed Gu had poisoned Heywood in a dispute over an illicit financial transaction she had wanted him to help her complete, and they portrayed Gu as a greedy wife who was translating her husband's connections into dollars.
But when Gu was formally indicted, the official allegation instead hinted at a personal motive, saying Heywood had made unspecified threats against Guagua - a factor that could count as a mitigating circumstance and help Gu avoid execution.
The trial will be held behind closed doors and none of the evidence will be tested in public. In almost all cases in China, defendants are quickly convicted and sentenced.
Guagua graduated this year from Harvard's Kennedy School and is believed to be still in the United States.
Police sources say Heywood was likely poisoned in a hotel in Chongqing, where Bo Xilai had been the powerful Communist Party chief, in November last year.
It is not clear what threat Heywood could have posed to the younger Bo. The British man's friends describe him as a devoted family man who was discreet about his Bo family connections.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)