Beijing, Aug. 26: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s wife, Zhang Peili, hired a body double to replace Gu Kailai, the main accused in the murder of British Businessman Neil Heywood, at her trial, fearing that the real suspect would reveal damaging secrets of corruption in the country.
The Daily Mail has learned that the stand-in has been named as 46-year-old Zhao Tianshao, who is from the Langfang city, 60 miles south of Beijing.
According to the report, it has been claimed that she was given a scripted confession at the trial and obediently agreed not to appeal her sentence.
Now, censors have also banned search engines revealing results for the name Zhao Tianshao, the report said.
The real Gu is now expected to serve her sentence, thought to be around 10 years, in a maximum-security Beijing jail for high-profile offenders.
The stand-in allegation, widely circulated on blogs that sidestep China’s stringent internet censors, surfaced in an anonymous message posted online, the report said.
“Premier Wen Jiabao’s wife Zhang Peili spent half a year looking for the body double [Zhao Tianshao]. Zhang Peili paid this woman a big sum of money to attend the trial,” the message claimed.
Flamboyant Zhang Peili, 71, who heads a Beijing diamond company and whose materialistic lifestyle is an embarrassment to her husband, is suspected to have feared the allegations made by Gu over corruption might spread to other senior Communist Party officials’ families, including her own, the report said.
The body-double theory was bolstered by remarks attributed to Gu’s adopted sister Yu Shuqin, who called the woman in the dock an imposter.
“It doesn’t matter how fat a woman becomes,” she reportedly said, adding: “The shape of her ears will never change”.
In Langfang, there was no trace of Zhao Tianshao, who bloggers suspect is either a serving prisoner, who agreed to the stand-in scheme to reduce her sentence, or an obedient low-ranking Communist Party orderly, the report said.
“We know about the rumours but we have been warned not to make any inquiries about this woman,” a journalist on the city’s daily newspaper said.
“If we try to look for her, it will only bring big trouble for us,” he added. (ANI)