BEIJING, China (CBS) -- A high-profile murder trial opened in China Thursday morning. The case involves the wife of a former top government official. She's accused of murdering a British businessman.
Gu Kailai was led into court by what appeared to be guards, the pictures shown on Chinese television show an audience that excluded foreign journalists. The trial that has raised allegations of murder, money, and the use of political power that allegedly helped her family amass a fortune reported to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
It centers on Gu Kailai, accused in the killing of her British business associate who was poisoned in a Chinese hotel. But most observers think the trial is more about the Community Party going after her husband Bo Xilai who was party boss of one of China's biggest cities.
He was on his way to a seat in the elite Politburo that runs China, but was suddenly stripped of his party leadership jobs. Many here believe Bo used his political influence to imprison political and business rivals and that influence also helped his wife and family make millions in shady deals.
Zhang Ming is professor of political science at People's University in Beijing. It is an example, he says, of a local high level official and his family acting recklessly and lawlessly with their power.
Bo and Gu were China's glamour power couple, sometimes compared to the Kennedy's. But that fame and an ill-gotten fortune may have been too much for China new button down leadership that wants nothing that hints at high-level corruption.
Orville Shell is a long time China expert now visiting Beijing. He says, "What the party hopes is verdict will say was there's been a malfeasance in office, a family has committed crimes to boo, and the party has moved resolutely to rectify the process."