Chinese authorities make arrest in B.C. homicide
Darcy Wintonyk, ctvbc.ca
Published Tuesday, October 13, 2009 12:18PM PDT
Nearly seven years after the high-profile murder of Chinese exchange student Amanda Zhao, Chinese authorities have arrested the primary suspect in her death.
Acting on evidence from the RCMP, police in Beijing quietly arrested Zhao's boyfriend, 26-year-old Ang Li and his 26-year-old cousin, Zhang Han, in July and August of this summer.
Li reported Wei (Amanda) Zhao, then an English student at Coquitlam College, missing in October, 11 days before hikers found her mangled body stuffed into a duffel bag in the woods near Mission, B.C., about 80 kilometres east of Vancouver.
She had been strangled.
Li, who fled to China two days after her body was found, was charged in absentia with second-degree murder seven months later. He hasn't been returned because of jurisdictional disputes. He had been living with his father in a military compound until the time of his arrest.
Han, who initially stayed in British Columbia, pleaded guilty to charges of helping dispose of Zhao's body. The confession was later thrown out in court on the grounds it was improperly obtained.
Han, Li and Zhao had shared a basement apartment in Burnaby before her death.
The young girl's family has accused the Canadian government repeatedly of dragging their feet, even travelling to Canada last year trying to gather answers about the slow progress of the investigation.
In an interview with CTV and the Globe and Mail in Beijing, Zhao's mother, Yang Baoying, said she was informed of the arrests by an RCMP liaison at the Canadian consulate in Beijing.
The 63-year-old said she reacted calmly to the news.
"Because even he is chopped into muddy flesh, it won't ease my hatred," she said. "Two gold mountains can't bring back my child."
It is still unclear what charges the two men will face in China, or why the arrests have been kept quiet until this point. Canadian Mounties have repeatedly requested Li be arrested and returned to Canada to face his charges.
Baoying is concerned Li will not be prosecuted to the full extent of the law because of his high-profile family in China. She said losing her daughter will outweigh any punishment he could receive.
"She was the best thing of my life and the person I can least afford to lose. It will never meet my hopes and expectation no matter what kind of sentence he gets."
Baoying criticized the way the Canadian government handled the case.
"The cooperation between Canadian and Chinese governments is very torturous," she said.
"I am just a very ordinary, very ordinary person. I don't think the Canadian government would treat the case this way if I were a high-rank official. It does not give people the same treatment. There is prejudice."
Watch the full interview with Amanda Zhao's mother on CTV News at Six