Zhao Murder Trial in China

Amanda Zhao was 21 years old, an international student in B.C. when police found her murdered body nine years ago. All these years later, her case has spawned unprecedented co-operation between Canada and China, as her boyfriend faces trial in Beijing today charged with her murder. A woman seemingly forgotten by the justice system may now play a role in changing it.

Part Three of The Current

Zhao Murder Trial in China - Catherine Mercier

Chinese student Amanda Zhao's Canadian journey began with her enrollment in English courses in British Columbia. And it ended in tragedy when hikers found her strangled body crammed in a suitcase in the Fraser Valley.

That was nine years ago. The prime suspect was Zhao's boyfriend. Ang Li told police Ms. Zhao had left to pick up groceries, but never returned. Three days after her body was found, Ang Li returned to China. That's where he's been ever since. Only now - nearly a decade later - Ang Li is on trial for Ms. Zhao's murder... not in this country though - but rather, in a Beijing courtroom. For Amanda Zhao's mother, it's at least a turning point in her ordeal.

The case is particularly unusual because the RCMP handed it's evidence over to Chinese authorities - so justice could be meted out in China. Catherine Mercier is the CBC and Radio-Canada correspondent in Beijing. She was at the courthouse earlier today.

Zhao Murder Trial in China - Jenny Kwan

The case has been particularly difficult since there is no extradition treaty between Canada and China. Jenny Kwan has been trying to get justice for Amanda Zhao's family for years. She is an NDP MLA for Vancouver - Mount Pleasant.

Zhao Murder Trial in China - Michael Byers

Chinese and Canadian justice systems both assign guilt and punish. But otherwise they're hardly close neighbours. Still, some believe it's a good sign that Canada and the Chinese government are cooperating in this case.

Michael Byers is a professor of International Law at the University of British Columbia. He was at home on Salt Spring Island.

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