(Reuters) - China sentenced the wife of fallen Politburo member Bo Xilai to death on Monday but suspended her execution, setting the stage for a possible final purge of Bo himself in a scandal that has shaken Beijing ahead of a leadership transition.

The sentence means Gu Kailai is likely to face life in jail for murdering British businessman Neil Heywood last year.

It also brings a curtain down on China's most sensational trial in three decades, yet opens a new and more politically dangerous act for the ruling Communist Party -- how to deal with Bo, an ambitious and well-connected provincial leader whose downfall exposed rifts in the party.

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