SAN FRANCISCO (August 19, 2012) — Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai, was sentenced to death with two-year reprieve for her role in the death of Neil Heywood, but her imprisonment could be as short as nine years. The vast majority of sentences of death with two-year reprieve—an estimated 99.9 percent in 1995—are commuted to life imprisonment after two years, and people serving life sentences are eligible for medical parole after seven years.

Gu “had been treated for chronic insomnia, anxiety and depression, and paranoia in the past” and “developed a certain degree of physical and psychological dependence on sedative hypnotic drugs, which resulted in mental disorders,” according to an evaluation set in motion by prosecutors, China Daily reported. In the past, Chinese authorities have used mental disorders as the basis for medical parole.

Generally speaking, people sentenced to death with two-year reprieve serve an average of 18 years in prison, according to a 2006 report by Yanzhao Metropolis Daily. This figure may have increased following the 8th Amendment to China’s Criminal Law in 2011, which increased mandatory minimum time served for life sentences.

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Dui Hua Foundation
San Francisco
August 19, 20112