Entries in Sentence (7)


Wife of Ousted Chinese Leader Receives Suspended Death Sentence

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- Precisely on time and as expected, the Intermediate People’s Court in Hefei, China, announced on Monday that Gu Kailai, the wife of ousted party chief Bo Xilai, received a suspended death sentence for the alleged murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

After the verdict was read, Gu had this short statement for the court: “I feel that the verdict is fair.  It fully embodies that our court showed a special respect to the law, to reality and especially to life.”

Officially, she was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve.  In China, after two years the vast majority of these sentences are commuted to life in prison.  Gu could then be eligible for medical parole in seven years, or 2019.

The judgment was swift, coming just 10 days after her equally quick, one-day trial concluded.  Gu was widely expected to avoid the death penalty, analysts said, due to her family’s prominence as well as the picture painted by the prosecution of an unstable, anxious mother who only killed Heywood to protect her Harvard University son.

Her alleged accomplice, aide Zhang Xiaojun, received nine years in prison.  While no further information was available from the court, neither one is expected to appeal the decision.

Heywood was found dead in his hotel room in the southwestern city of Chongqing last November.  The prosecution claimed that Gu lured Heywood to a meeting to resolve a dispute over “economic interests” that somehow involved her son.  At the time he was a graduate student at Harvard University and based in Cambridge, Mass.  He has since completed his studies and is believed to be in the U.S.  

Gu, the prosecution told the court, got Heywood drunk and when he asked for water she poisoned him.  Earlier this year, the Daily Telegraph reported that the poison was cyanide.  The official Chinese report on the cause death was alcohol poisoning, but Heywood’s body was cremated before an official autopsy could be carried out.

It was only in February that a different story emerged after Wang Lijun, the former police chief in Chongqing, fled to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu.  Reportedly fearing for his life because he knew too much, Wang presented U.S. officials with evidence that Gu was involved in Heywood's death.  He eventually received a police escort to Beijing, where he was taken into custody and placed on “vacation style leave” by the government.

In June, Wang stepped down as a party member, forfeiting his immunity.  He is expected to be tried for treason for his decision to enter the U.S. consulate without approval.

The rapid resolution of Gu’s case reflects the party’s determination to resolve the scandal as quickly and quietly as possible.  Observers suggest that Gu has taken the fall in this dramatic tale in order to protect the government from what could turn into significant public protest over massive corruption at the very top of party leadership.

Reports are the economic dispute that came between the family and Heywood involved millions upon millions of dollars.  Neither the family of Heywood nor British officials have confirmed details, but speculation repeatedly returns to Heywood’s role in assisting Bo and his wife in moving their wealth out of China and the cut he may have been demanding as a fee.

Observers say the last thing the leaders of the party want is for corruption charges to be a matter of public discussion.  That could seriously undermine party credibility just as the government prepares for a once-in-a-decade transition of power.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Charles Taylor Sentenced to 50 Years for Role in Sierra Leone Crimes

JERRY LAMPEN/AFP/Getty Images(LEIDSCHENDAM, Netherlands) -- Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years behind bars on Wednesday for his role in the atrocities committed in neighboring Sierra Leone during the country's decade-long civil war.

Last month, the 64-year-old warlord was found guilty by the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone on all 11 charges for "aiding and abetting" militant groups as they carried out crimes against the people of the African nation in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  Those crimes included enlisting child soldiers, mass murder, the chopping off of limbs and sexual slavery.

In all, more than 50,000 died during the war.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mexican Gang Boss Gets Life Sentence in US Consulate Murders

Comstock/Thinkstock(EL PASO, Texas) -- A U.S. district judge Wednesday sentenced one of the Mexico's top gang bosses to life in prison without parole for his role in the March 2010 murders of a U.S. consulate employee and two others.

Wednesday in El Paso, Texas, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone sentenced Robert Angel Cardona, a top-ranking member of the Mexican gang Barrio Azteca, which is also tied to more than 1,500 murders along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to The Washington Times. Cardona pleaded guilty in August 2011 to charges of racketeering conspiracy.

Cardona and his gang had been involved in a long list of illegal activity. According to court documents, Barrio Azteca was connected to drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering and kidnapping in addition to brutal killings, including the Juarez murders of U.S. consulate employee Leslie Ann Enriquez Catton, her husband Arthur Redelfs and Jorge Alberto Salcido, the husband of another consulate employee.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Buried Alive Fiance Gets 20 Years in Prison

Hemera/Thinkstock(WEST YORKSHIRE, England) -- A man who put his fiancée in a cardboard computer box and tried to bury her alive because he was bored with her was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.

Judge Peter Collier at Leeds Crown Court in England sentenced Marcin Kasprzak, 26, for the attempted murder of his former fiancée Michelina Lewandowska.

“It was your intention that she would not be found.  It was your intention that she die there,” Collier said during the sentencing. “The death you intended would have been long and slow.  It is mind-numbingly awful to imagine the sort of death you intended her to die.”

The case gained notoriety when Lewandowska clawed her way out of her intended grave, using the diamond on her engagement ring to dig her way out of the box.

Kasprzak and his friend Patryk Borys attacked Lewandowska with a taser at the couple’s home last May, then bound and stuffed her into a cardboard computer box.  They buried her under six inches of dirt and an 88-pound tree branch.

Borys, 18, admitted to kidnapping and was sentenced to four years in prison.

During the trial, Lewandowska  told the court she prayed, thought of her 3-year-old son, then gathered the strength to cut her way out of the box using her diamond engagement ring.

Kasprzak admitted to kidnapping, but claimed he only wanted to scare his fiancée.  Prosecutors argued Kasprzak had grown bored with the mother of his child and wanted to be rid of her.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Joran Van Der Sloot to Be Sentenced in 2010 Peru Murder

Sebastian Silva/AFP/Getty Images(LIMA, Peru) -- Joran van der Sloot, the Dutch national long believed to be responsible for the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, will be sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty to the murder of a Peruvian woman he had met in a Lima hotel five years to the day Holloway vanished.

The 24-year-old faces up to 30 years in prison for the death of 21-year-old Stephany Flores, although it's expected he'll get less time for the homicide after confessing to it on Wednesday.

Flores, the daughter of a wealthy and influential Peruvian businessman, was found strangled in van der Sloot’s hotel room on May 31, 2010.  The two had reportedly met at a Lima casino.

Van der Sloot reportedly claimed in a confession shortly after the slaying that he’d killed Flores because she found information linking him to Holloway on his computer.

Van der Sloot, a former Aruba resident, was the last person seen with the 18-year-old Holloway, who was on a high school trip in Aruba, before she vanished.  No body has even been found despite countless searches and probes by both Aruban authorities and private investigators hired by Holloway's family.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Natalee Holloway’s Suspected Killer Seeks Deal in Peru

Sebastian Silva/AFP/Getty Images(LIMA, Peru) -- Joran van der Sloot, accused of murder in Peru and the prime suspect in the disappearance of American teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba, appears to be considering a plea deal that could get him out of prison in a few years.

Van der Sloot appeared in a packed jailhouse court in Lima, Peru, Friday and agreed to make a confession before asking the court for more time to consider his options. The court agreed to another hearing next Wednesday.

Van der Sloot, 24, is charged in Peru with the murder of Stephany Flores on May 30, 2010. Conviction of a first degree murder charge would mean a possible 30 year sentence.

Flores, the daughter of a wealthy and influential Peruvian businessman, was found strangled in van der Sloot’s hotel room on May 31, 2010.

Friday’s hourlong courtroom session appeared to set up a situation where van der Sloot will plead guilty by reason of temporary insanity, which, under Peruvian law, carries a sentence of three to five years.

If he pleads guilty to temporary insanity and the court accepts that plea, he could be set free, according to statements his lawyers have made to ABC News.

They state that Peru has a two-for-one stipulation in its judicial system, meaning a prisoner’s time spent in jail awaiting trial is computed doubly. Van der Sloot has completed more than three years of jail time -- the minimum of the three- to five-year term if found guilty.

If given the maximum sentence of five years, he would finish that term in less than two years.

The Dutch national who lived in Aruba fled Peru and was arrested three days later in Chile, which sent him back to Peru.

Friday’s hearing took place at the Lurigancho prison about a mile and a half from his jail cell in Miguel Castro Castro prison. Lurigancho is considered one of the worst prisons in the world by human rights groups, with about 11,000 inmates in a space for little more than 2,000.

Castro Castro is considered a “country club” jail where prisoners pay their way in to not have to go to Lurigancho. Van der Sloot has a small room with an uncomfortable-looking bed and a nearby toilet. For a while he had special privileges that included a PlayStation, a computer, two cell phones and reportedly prostitutes and drugs. That has changed under a new prison administration.

Van der Sloot had twice previously been arrested for the disappearance of Holloway, a 19-year-old from Alabama who vanished during a celebratory trip to Aruba with her senior class in May 2005. Van der Sloot maintained that he’d left her on a beach, drunk. That’s the last anyone has seen of her.

If van der Sloot does get out of the Peruvian prison, he will likely be sought by the FBI which has accused him of fraud and extortion, demanding $25,000 from Holloway’s mother Beth Twitty. In exchange he promised to tell her where her daughter’s body was. After Twitty paid the money, van der Sloot pointed out a new house and said her body was encased in the foundation, a claim he later admitted was a lie.

Beth Twitty declined to comment on the proceedings Friday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Rado


Sentencing of Egyptian Police Officers Draws Criticism

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CAIRO) -- The sentencing of two Egyptian police officers convicted for the beating death of Khaled Said, the 28-year-old man whose killing is said to have sparked the revolt in Egypt, has spurred more controversy, the New York Times reports.

An Alexandria court sentenced the two men to seven years in prison, drawing criticism from both the families of Said and the convicted officers, Mahmoud Salah and Awad Ismaeil.

Said's family and its supporters found the sentence to be too lenient, while relatives of Salah and Ismaeil tried to attack prosecutors in the courtroom after hearing the judgement, according to the New York Times.

Khaled Said died in June 2010 after, according to witnesses, police dragged him from an internet cafe in Alexandria and beat him, the Times reports.

Gamal Eid, a human rights lawyer, told the Times that it is rare for prison time to be handed down for police brutality. Still, the judge said the victim in this case had been treated cruelly.

Critics of the ruling, however, say that such a mild sentence won't suffice as a deterrent for future incidents.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio