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Bo Xilai scandal: official who doubted autopsy report quits

A senior forensic expert who had questioned the autopsy report of murdered British businessman Neil Heywood whose death triggered the Bo Xilai scandal has resigned days before the disgraced Chinese politician goes to trial.

world Updated: Aug 19, 2013 23:28 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A senior forensic expert who had questioned the autopsy report of murdered British businessman Neil Heywood whose death triggered the Bo Xilai scandal has resigned days before the disgraced Chinese politician goes to trial.

Wang Xuemei, vice-president of the Chinese Forensic Medicine Association and considered to be the top woman forensic expert in China, officially quit over doubts she had in another, unrelated case; Wang had raised questions about the post mortem report of a youth who died on subway line in Beijing in 2010.

But it was Wang’s questioning of the report on Heywood’s death that surprised many as she was also a vice-director of China’s public prosecutor’s office.

At that time, she had put up a post on one of China’s Twitter-like social networking sites saying a “serious lack of evidence exists to conclude that Neil Heywood died of cyanide poisoning, as well as supporting scientific basis” (translated by website Shanghaiist from a screenshot of the post); the blog had been removed soon after Wang had put it up.

Wang had also told the BBC that the account given in court by Bo’s wife Gu Kailai --- who is in jail for confessing to the murder – did not tally with signs of cyanide poisoning.

Wang said characteristics of cyanide poisoning were missing. “… the scream reflex that occurs during "lightning-fast" asphyxia, body spasms which would have been apparent as the cyanide reached Heywood's central nervous system, stupour that would have followed, or eventual cardiopulmonary arrest just prior to his death,” she had written, adding that investigators should have spotted the signs.

It was Heywood’s murder in November, 2011, that triggered a cascade of events that led to the sacking of Bo – once the rising star in the Communist Party of China and tipped to be a member of the elite Politburo –, his subsequent indictment on corruption and bribery charges and the arrest of his wife Gu.

Wang’s resignation was covered by the state media on Monday but no mention was made about her contrary views on the Heywood case.

“As the vice-president of CFMA, I cannot stand the current forensic expert conclusion of Ma Yue's case, so I not only want to resign from the position of vice president of CFMA, I am also determined not to participate in any activities organised by CFMA,” Wang said in an online video statement on Sunday.