Saturday 22 July 2017

Body in suitcase 'taller than wife missing from cruise', says lawyer

  • Body discovered in locked suitcase in Rimini port
  • Port is located in north-east Italy on Adriatic Sea
  • Authorities to carry out post-mortem today
  • Italian police investigating if body is that of missing cruise mum
  • Dublin-based mother-of-two last seen on February 11
Missing mother Li Yinglei with her husband David Belling Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Missing mother Li Yinglei with her husband David Belling Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Conor Feehan and Ryan Nugent

The solicitor of a man currently in prison on suspicion of murdering his wife while on a cruise believes a body discovered in a suitcase floating in an Italian bay is not that of the missing woman.

Italian police are investigating if the remains found in the port of Rimini are those of Dublin-based woman Li Yinglei.

A passer-by raised the alarm on Saturday after they noticed a blue, locked suitcase in the water off the north-east coast of Italy on the Adriatic Sea.

Police discovered the remains of a woman wrapped in a bin-bag in the suitcase. Some reports said the remains were dismembered.

Authorities are due to carry out a post-mortem today, and while there was an immediate suspicion the body might be that of Ms Li, there are some factors - such as the height of the body discovered - which make Italian police now believe it may be a different person.

Ms Li disappeared from a luxury cruise in the Mediterranean and was last seen on February 11. She was with her husband Daniel Belling (45) and their children when she vanished.

The couple, who live in Clare Hall, Dublin, had set off on the 11-day cruise with their two children aboard the MSC Magnifica. The ship set sail from the Italian port of Civitavecchia on February 9 and continued on to Genoa, Malta, Greece and Cyprus.

Ms Li's husband was arrested by police in Italy after he tried to catch a Ryanair flight to Ireland with his two young children.

Earlier, the cruise company found that Ms Li was unaccounted for when it did a head count at the end of the cruise and contacted the authorities.

Row

Mr Belling, who was born in Germany, denied killing her but said she had quit the trip after they had a row. He said he expected her to travel to either Ireland or her native China.

Today, Mr Belling's solicitor said he believed the body found in the suitcase was not that of the missing mother of two.

Luigi Conti said he has heard the body that has been recovered does not match the description of Ms Li.

"The body in the suitcase is 170cm in height, but Daniel Belling's wife is smaller than that," he said. "I am also told it is a different type of body than that of Mr Belling's wife."

It was not clear whether this meant the body found was of a different nationality or of a different description to the missing Chinese woman.

Mr Conti said he would be visiting Mr Belling in prison today. Last week, an Italian judge ruled that Mr Belling must remain in custody in Rome's Regina Coeli prison after attempts were made for him to be freed on bail.

Sources close to the investigation say the corpse found in the suitcase would initially appear to be a taller person than Ms Li, and was at a level of decomposition that would appear to be more recent than the time she went missing.

"DNA samples of Ms Li's children or mother may have to be taken and compared with the DNA from the body to see if they match," the source said.

Irish Independent

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