Around Asia: Heywood family seeks $5m in compensation

In Other News - August 13th, 2013
thierry ehrmann Gu Kaili

The family of murdered British businessman Neil Heywood is seeking compensation almost two years on from his death at the hands of the wife of one of China’s most powerful politicians.

Heywood was found dead at his hotel room in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing in November 2011, a scandal that led to the downfall of Communist Party highflier Bo Xilai when his wife, Gu Kailai, emerged as a key figure in the investigation.

Gu was convicted of the crime last year.

After a long silence on Heywood’s murder, his mother spoke out for the first time about the “ongoing nightmare” the family faced since the death of her son.

In a statement released to the Wall Street Journal, Ann Heywood appealed to Chinese authorities to step in and offer financial assistance to those Heywood left behind.

Heywood’s children, Olivia, 12, and George, 8, “are particularly vulnerable to the hurt and horror of their father’s murder and, since Neil was the family’s sole breadwinner, to uncertainty and insecurity, there being no provision for their future,” Mrs. Heywood said.

One lawyer close to the Gu family said the Heywoods were seeking at least 30 million yuan (about $5 million).

The Heywoods, with the helps of British diplomats, have been quietly lobbying for compensation but as yet have reportedly received no response from the Chinese government.

“Given the circumstances of Neil’s murder, I have been surprised and disappointed that, despite repeated discreet approaches to the Chinese authorities, there has been no substantive or practical response,” Mrs. Heywood said.

The compensation claim could undermine the Chinese government’s efforts to wrap up one of the most explosive political cases, as Bo is set to stand trial for bribery and abuse of power.

by Maesie Bertumen

Photo: Thierry Ehrmann/Flickr