Thursday 25 May 2017

'Suitcase body does not match description of missing cruise mum' - says solicitor

  • Body discovered in locked suitcase in Rimini port
  • Port is located in north-east Italy on Adriatic Sea
  • Authorities to carry out post-mortem tomorrow
  • Italian police investigating if body is that of missing cruise mum
  • Dublin-based mother-of-two last seen on February 11
Daniel Belling and Xing Lei Li leave court in Dublin in 2011 Photo: Kyran O’Brien
Daniel Belling and Xing Lei Li leave court in Dublin in 2011 Photo: Kyran O’Brien

Denise Calnan and Conor Feehan

The solicitor of a man who is currently in prison on suspicion of murdering his wife said he believes a body discovered in a suitcase is not that of the missing woman.

Italian police are investigating if the body discovered in the Italian port of Remini is that of missing Dublin-based woman Li Yinglei.

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

The man initially attempted to take the suitcase out of the water but it was too heavy.

Police discovered the remains of a female wrapped up in a bin-bag in the suitcase.

Independent.ie understands the remains were dismembered.

Daniel Belling and Xing Lei Li
Daniel Belling and Xing Lei Li

Authorities are now due to carry out a post-mortem on the body tomorrow.

Today, Daniel Belling's solicitor said he believes the body found in the suitcase is not that of the missing mother-of-two.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Luigi Conti said he has heard the body that has been recovered does not match the description of Belling's wife.

"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," he added.

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 Belling in prison tomorrow.

"He knows a body has been found, I have not been talking to him but I will see him tomorrow and will talk then, but I believe the body that has been found is not his wife," he explained.

Chinese-born Li Yinglei disappeared from a luxury cruise in the Mediterranean. She was last seen on February 11.

She was with her husband Daniel Belling (45) and their children when she disappeared.

The couple, who lived in Clare Hall, Dublin, had set off on an 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.

Crew members noticed Ms Li was missing when they did a head count at the end of the cruise.

Police are examining the theory that she was murdered, placed inside a suitcase and thrown overboard.

Mr Belling, who is from Germany, was arrested at an Italian airport on February 20 as he was about to board a plane home to Ireland after his wife had disappeared.

He is now in prison in Italy on suspicion of murdering his wife during the cruise.

An Italian judge this week ruled that Mr Belling must remain in custody in Rome's Regina Coeli prison after attempts were made for him to be released on bail.

The accused's lawyer Luigi Conti said his client insists he had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance and maintains that she has fled to China or returned to Dublin.

Cruise

A souvenir shop owner later told reporters she remembered the couple and their children in her store that morning, when Mr Belling was "agitated" and "yelled" at his wife about her shoes.

"He said, 'Put these on instead of your sandals and shut up'," the shop owner said, adding that he handed his wife a pair of gym shoes.

However, according to local reports, Mr Belling told a magistrate during a prison court hearing that the family remained together until the ship reached Katakolon in Greece.

Mr Belling reportedly told the judge they had quarrelled the night before and she wanted to "quit the trip".

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