"Plumper" Gu Kailai in Chinese court, real or body double?
The trial of Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, for killing a British businessman ended with suspended death sentence, but pictures from court showing her plumper than she ever was in the past sparked off speculation in microblogs whether the woman in the dock was a body double.
Several posts and re-posts surfaced on Chinese social media sites about the screen grab of the courtroom scene, suggesting that the woman who appeared plumper than Gu was a body double, a report by the BBC's Chinese service said.
Gu, a high profile and fashionable personality in Chinese politics until she was arrested for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood early this year was handed down a suspended death sentence on August 20.
Photos and video footage of her standing in the dock of the courtroom, circulated officially to the media and published widely in China and abroad were questioned by skeptical Chinese bloggers, who believe that she could be Gu's double.
One internet user posted some "before and after" photos and asked, "Are we looking at the same woman? There are rumours that the woman who appeared in the court room is a body double, because whether you are thin or fat, your bone structure shouldn't change."
Another user said, "Please note the corner of the mouth, the bags under the eyes and the ears, especially the ears."
"You might flatten the bags, but you can't change the shape of your ears," the report said.
While the speculation prompted one Hong Kong paper - Apple Daily to consult journalist Jiang Weiping, who was in contact with Gu and her husband Bo for a number of years, the Financial Times, London sought the opinion of two security experts "familiar with facial recognition software" to find out the authenticity of the footage.
It was a split verdict as Jiang said judging by the face and the gestures, it could be Gu herself, the Financial Times specialists concluded that the person shown in state television footage of the trial was not Gu.
Summing up the general scepticism of Chinese official media reports, noted Chinese writer Zhang Yihe, in his microblog said, "There are a lot of questions, did Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang put on a show during the (London) Olympics? Did swimmer Ye Shiwen (who won two gold medals at Olympics) take drugs? Did Gu Kailai herself attend the trial?" "All this reminds us of an ancient fable - crying wolf."
"In the story the boy only lied once, and nobody believed him afterwards and he was eaten by a wolf", she said.
"The Chinese propaganda machine is luckier - they have been telling lies for over 60 years, and now, everything they say is doubted," the BBC report quoted here as saying.
Gu's trial was over in seven hours and it was open for selected few including two British diplomats.
Due to restrictive access, almost all foreign media depended only on the coverage provided by state-run Xinhua news agency.
As the debate over Gu's identity picked up in the microblogging site Sina Weibo, regarded as Chinese Twitter, the phrase "body double" was blocked by firewalls.