Italian officials have detained a German tech consultant at Rome’s Ciampino airport after his wife vanished from their vacation cruise and he didn’t tell anyone, police say.
Daniel Belling, 45, his wife Li Yinglei, 36, and their two young children began a 10-day Mediterranean cruise Feb. 10 on the Magnifica cruise ship in Civitavecchia, Italy, the Irish Times reports. Li disappeared at some point but it didn’t come to light until cruise workers did a head count of disembarking passengers on Monday.
Maritime authorities alerted police, who arrested Belling on suspicion of murder. He was charged with murder and faced a preliminary investigative judge Friday for a hearing in the Rome prison of Regina Coeli. The judge said just before midnight local time that he should remain in custody because of his “suspect” behaviour and concerns that he would try to leave the country, according to the Irish Times.
His lawyer indicated to The Telegraph Wednesday that there’s a perfectly good explanation for what happened, though he didn’t provide one. He says Belling would have behaved differently had he been a killer.
“He simply headed to Ciampino airport with his children [ages 4 and 6] to catch the flight that he had booked when he first organized the cruise,” said defense lawyer Luigi Conti. He added that his client would explain what happened in court.
The lawyer expects the investigative procedure to be brief and expects the case to come to court within less than a year, the Irish Times reports.
The last time anyone remembers seeing Belling’s wife was in a shop with her family on Feb. 10, according to La Stampa.
The Magnifica was stopped mid-cruise Wednesday evening so investigators could examine the room where the couple was staying, the Irish Sun reports.
Belling works as a tech consultant whose clients include Apple, according to the Telegraph. He’s a German citizen but lives in the Irish capital of Dublin. Italian authorities stopped him as he was about to board a flight to Dublin Monday.
The couple’s children are in the care of Italian social services.
This article has been updated to include details of Belling’s hearing Friday.