In a twist to the mysterious death of a British businessman in China, it was on Sunday claimed that a Chinese official reportedly admitted supplying potassium cyanide to his alleged killer.
Neil Heywood (41), who had close links with the disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai and his wife Gu Kailai, was found dead in a hotel room in Chongqing last November. His family and the British government were initially told that he died after consuming “excessive alcohol”. His body was cremated without post-mortem.
But, last week the Chinese authorities indicated that they suspected he was murdered and said Ms. Gu was being investigated in connection with Heywood's death. She has been detained on suspicion of murder.
According to a report in The Sunday Times, Xia Deliang, a former Communist party district leader in Chongqing, claimed he supplied cyanide to Mr. Bo's wife.
“The claims of the confession were made on Baidu.com, a popular Chinese website. The postings were not immediately censored, leading analysts to believe they were officially sanctioned leaks,” it said adding: “The postings alleged that Xia admitted his role in supplying potassium cyanide to Bo's wife.”
The BBC, however, reported that the claim was made on Boxun, a U.S.-based website.
“That rumour was repeated by people using Chinese micro-blogging sites and has been picked up by some Western newspapers,” it said.
The Chinese authorities had made no comment.
There has been intense speculation that Heywood's death was linked to the downfall of the once-powerful Mr. Bo, recently purged from the Communist Party's politburo. The British government is under pressure to demand answers from Beijing.