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Missing mum's body 'likely destroyed by fishes in sea'

Husband of woman who disappeared off cruise ship facing homicide charges

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Xing Li was reported missing when ship’s crew did head count

Xing Li was reported missing when ship’s crew did head count

The MSC Magnifica cruise ship

The MSC Magnifica cruise ship

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Xing Li was reported missing when ship’s crew did head count

A Dublin-based man from Germany is facing charges for homicide and destruction of his wife's body while on board a Mediterranean cruise ship.

Italian investigators announced today that their preliminary investigation into the mystery disappearance of Chinese national Xing Li (38), had concluded.

Mr Belling's lawyer Luigi Conti told the Herald that he had been informed of the development in the long-running case this morning.

"Mr Belling stands accused of two crimes," he said. "The first is homicide and the second is the destruction of the body, in the sea, where it has likely been destroyed by fish.

Serious

"These are very serious crimes and he faces life in prison."

Mr Conti said he had tried to make contact with his client, who he believes is in Germany.

"I cannot comment further until I speak to Daniel," he said.

Mr Belling returned to Ireland in 2018 after 14 months on remand in an Italian jail in relation to the disappearance.

His solicitor persuaded authorities to release him from custody, and he returned to the home he shared with his wife in Clarehall, Co Dublin.

He is understood to have been living there until recently. Xing Li, also known as Angie, has not been seen since Feb- ruary 10, 2017.

She, Mr Belling and their two children boarded the MSC Magnifica in the Italian port of Civitavecchia on February 9.

After the ship set sail, it called at Genoa and ports in Malta, Greece and Cyprus.

Crew members became aware Xing Li was missing when they did a head count at the end of the cruise.

Mr Belling and the couple's two children were stopped by police at Rome's Ciampino Airport on February 17 after Xing Li could not be accounted for.

They were about to board a Ryanair flight back home.

Mr Belling has repeatedly denied killing his wife and has not been charged with any offence.

Investigators thought they had a breakthrough in March 2017 when a suitcase containing the body of an Oriental woman was found floating in the Adriatic, off Italy's east coast.

However, the remains were not those of Xing Li

Mr Belling reportedly told an Italian judge that he and his wife had fought and that she wanted to "quit the trip".

According to Italian press reports, he claimed his wife left the ship when he and the children joined a shore excursion.

Impossible

Mr Conti has said he has incontrovertible proof that Xing Li had been planning to dis- appear before she even set foot on the ship.

"Interviews Xing Li did with psychologists and doctors in Ireland before they ever went on the cruise prove she was planning on leaving Daniel," he said.

"In the statements, which I have copies of, she says in her own words, 'My life in Ireland is like a prison. I want to go back to China and leave the children with Daniel'." Mr Conti said that in interviews with police, Xing Li's mother defended Mr Belling, saying it was "impossible" that he had killed her daughter.

Speaking in Italy after his release in 2018, Mr Belling told reporters he believed he was set up by his wife after she arranged her disappearance.

He described her as a "cruel person" for allowing him to spend 14 months in jail for a crime "she knows I did not commit".

"I think my wife is most probably in China," he said.

"There is a small probability that something happened to her in Greece, but I believe she is in China.

"I was worried about my wife for the first few weeks, but not any more. I think she knows I have been imprisoned."

Mr Belling, who said he is not angry, claimed his wife "always had a strange personality".