The wife of a fallen Chinese politician has been given a suspended death sentence after confessing to killing a British businessman in a case that has rocked the country's political leadership. A suspended sentence is usually commuted to life in prison after several years.

He Zhengsheng, a lawyer for the victim Neil Heywood, said Monday that Gu Kailai was given the suspended death sentence and a family aide was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment for killing the former Bo family associate.

But even with the verdict, questions remain over the fate of Gu's husband, Bo Xilai, who was dismissed in March as party secretary of the major city of Chongqing. The murder trial comes at a sensitive time in China with a handover soon of power to younger leaders.