herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

'I'm looking forward to embracing my family' - murder accused freed

Daniel Belling has has won his freedom from an Italian prison
Daniel Belling has has won his freedom from an Italian prison

Cruise ship murder accused Daniel Belling is looking forward to "embracing" his family after being released from an Italian prison.

The Dublin-based computer programmer was expected to return home without delay.

Mr Belling's Chinese-born wife, Xing Lei Li, disappeared in February last year during an 11-day Mediterranean cruise.

Forty-five-year-old Mr Belling was arrested at Rome's Ciampino Airport by Italian police as he tried to board a flight to Dublin at the end of the holiday.

For the past 14 months he has been held in custody on suspicion of murder at Rome's tough Regina Coeli jail.

He was released on Monday night after his Italian lawyer, Luigi Conti, made a ­passionate plea for him to be released.

Speaking to the Herald, Mr Conti said that his client was travelling back to Dublin.

However, there was no sign last night of Mr Belling in Clarehall, where he and his wife had lived in an apartment block for several years.

Daniel Belling's Chinese-born wife, Xing Lei Li, who disappeared during an 11-day Mediterranean cruise
Daniel Belling's Chinese-born wife, Xing Lei Li, who disappeared during an 11-day Mediterranean cruise

Innocence

"The moment [Mr Belling] left the prison, he thanked us for the excellent work we have done and for the victory obtained before the tribunal of freedom," said Mr Conti.

He revealed that Mr Belling was looking forward to returning to Ireland. "He will take over his normal life... and we will assist him in Italy," he said.

Mr Belling, a German national, had consistently protested his innocence throughout his long ordeal.

Speaking after his release from prison, he told one newspaper: "I am so happy to be out. The feeling of joy is immense."

Meanwhile, it is understood that investigations into the disappearance of his wife are ongoing

There has been no trace of the 38-year-old since her disappearance more than 14 months ago.

Mr Belling and his wife boarded the 95,000-tonne cruise ship MSC Magnifica in the Italian port of Civitavecchia on February 9 last year.

In the 11 days that followed, the ship called at Malta, Greece and Cyprus.

Crew members became aware that Mr Belling's wife was missing when they carried out a head count at the end of the cruise.

They alerted police, who arrested Mr Belling at Ciampino Airport as he prepared to board a Ryanair flight.

His wife was registered on the Magnifica's passenger record on February 10, following a stopover at Genoa on the north Italian coast.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News