Murder trial of Dublin-based man whose wife disappeared from cruise liner begins

The Italian trial of a Dublin-based computer scientist accused of killing his wife and dumping her body in the sea is taking place in his absence.

The rosecuttors allege that German Daniel Belling (49), father of three, killed his wife, Chinese national Xing Li (38), while they were on a Mediterranean cruise in 2017.

Mr Belling’s lawyer, Luigi Conti, told the Sunday World the trial had begun to hear evidence.

“Next month we will hear from the captain of the ship,” he said.

“Things went well. Mr. Belling was not present. In Italy, you can choose whether or not to attend your own trial.”

It is understood that while in detention, Mr Belling made a number of phone calls to his nephew in Germany as well as to his mother-in-law, You Xiangzhen.

These were recorded and a request was made to have them transcribed and produced as evidence.

At the same hearing, Ms You brought a civil action against Mr Belling, seeking damages if he is found guilty of murdering her daughter.

Mr Conti said he had submitted the defense witness list to the court, which includes “Tusla personnel”.

Mr. Belling is currently in Ireland.

In July 2020, Italian investigators announced that their investigation into Ms. Xing’s disappearance had determined that computer programmer Mr. Belling killed his wife while on the ship and dumped her body overboard.

Mr Belling returned to Ireland in 2018 after 14 months on remand in an Italian prison in connection with the disappearance.

His lawyer persuaded the authorities to release him and he moved back to the house he shared with his wife in Clarehall, Dublin.

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

The crew members noticed that Ms. Xing had disappeared when they did a countdown at the end of the cruise.

Mr Belling and the couple’s two children were arrested by Italian police at Rome Ciampino Airport on February 17 as they prepared to board a flight home.

Mr Belling has always denied killing his wife.

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

However, the body was not Ms. Xing’s.

Mr Belling reportedly told an Italian judge that he and his wife had a fight and she wanted to ‘stop the trip’.

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

Speaking in Italy after her release in 2018, Mr Belling told reporters he believed she staged his disappearance.

He described her as a “cruel person” for allowing him to spend 14 months in prison for a crime “that I did not commit”.

“I think my wife is most likely in China.

“There’s a small chance something happened to her in Greece, but I believe she’s in China.”

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