World News Brief, Tuesday August 21

Gu Kailai gets life in prison, her husband still under investigation; Burma abolishes censorship of local media; UN mission in Syria ends amid violence; Union of South American Nations backs Ecuador's protection of Julian Assange; and more

Top of the Agenda: China Gives Suspended Death Sentence for Wife of Disgraced Official

A Chinese court today handed down a suspended death sentence to Gu Kailai, the wife of disgraced Communist Party official Bo Xilai, after finding her guilty of murdering a British business associate (NYT). Gu, whose sentence essentially amounts to life in prison, said the verdict showed "immense respect for the law, reality, and life." Gu reportedly plotted to murder the Briton, Neil Heywood, after he allegedly threatened her son. Meanwhile, Bo, ousted in March after an aide implicated him in covering up the murder, is currently being detained and investigated by Chinese officials.


"A key political consideration is whether the verdict is accepted by the Chinese public and helps the leadership bring an end to the Bo Xilai scandal, or whether it raises further questions and distracts from the shift in China's top leadership which will begin with the Communist Party's national congress scheduled for this fall. From that perspective, the handling of the Gu case will be a victory for the Chinese leadership," write TIME's Austin Ramzy.

"In the public purge, Mr. Bo's family has become a symbol of the sense of entitlement and impunity that many believe are the hallmark of the political elite in China. The party's intention now is presumably to show that no one is above the law, least of all its elite. But the opaque manner in which Ms. Gu's trial was conducted proves that the party is not yet ready to make itself publicly accountable," says this Financial Times editorial.



Burma Ends Local Media Censorship

Burma's Ministry of Information today abolished a rule requiring the censorship of local publications, more than a year after the military-backed civilian government began initiating reforms to extend press freedom (WSJ).



UN mission in Syria ends

Union of South American Nations backs Ecuador's protection of Julian Assange


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