Italian police probe if cruise ship woman was murdered, stuffed in suitcase and thrown overboard
Lawyer for husband insists: 'If this is a murder, then where is the body? Where are the witnesses?'
Italian police are investigating if an Irish-based father murdered his wife on a cruise, stuffed her in a suitcase and threw her overboard.
The search is continuing for Xing Lei Li who was reported missing on February 20. She has not been seen since February 11 and her husband Daniel Belling (45) remains in custody in Rome on suspicion of her murder.
Now reports have claimed that police are examining the theory that she was murdered, placed inside a suitcase and thrown overboard.
An Italian crime show Chi L'Ha Visto has reenacted this possible scenario in a video posted online.
In the clip a woman, who they say is the same size as Ms Xing (38), is shown stepping into a suitcase which is then zipped up and wheeled away.
Other photos show Ms Xing with a large suitcase, similar to the one shown in the clip, before their cruise.
The television show reported that the couple's cabin was located on the 11th floor of the ship. It was 120m away from a terrace facing the sea, where under the cover of darkness and the noise of the engines, an object could be thrown overboard without attracting attention.
But speaking on behalf of his client, Mr Belling's lawyer, Luigi Conti has rubbished the video and the theory:
"We have seen this video of the girl in the bag but this is impossible. It is possible because they don't have any witnesses that say this.
"This is just a possibility being said by journalists but it is not a judicial possibility. This case will be resolved in court, not on television."
He added: "If this is a murder, then where is the body? Where are the witnesses?"
Mr Belling has claimed that he last saw his wife when the MSC Magnifica docked on the Katakolon island in Greece - and that after embarking on a day trip with his children, she was not there on their return.
However, Italian police now suspect Ms Xing never exited the ship, as her key card did not register on the security card system. The system is used to allow residents on the cruise ship to leave and board the boat.
It is understood that CCTV footage from the ship is being examined, while Italian authorities have also conducted a number of interviews with staff who were working on the ship for the duration of the cruise.
One member of staff working at the restaurant on the cruise ship is said to have told investigators that he last saw Ms Xing dining with her family on February 10 when the ship was between Genoa and Valetta.
The staff member saw Mr Belling sit at the same spot in the restaurant with his two children for the duration of the cruise - between 6pm and 8pm each night - but says Ms Xing was not present.
Mr Belling was arrested as he attempted to board a flight to Dublin from Rome.
Mr Conti told Independent.ie he is applying to have his client released on bail.
"We propose that he is moved to another apartment in Italy and he can wear an electronic bracelet."
Mr Conti said his client insists he had nothing to do with her disappearance and maintains that his wife has fled to China or returned to Dublin.
"Mr Belling tells me: 'I did not kill my wife, she is a very particular woman with a strong personality... My wife is in China or another part of Europe, she has done this before where she disappeared on a holiday."