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Chinese tourist sentenced to life for killing wife at Phuket resort

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Chinese tourist sentenced to life for killing wife at Phuket resort | Samui Times
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A Chinese tourist arrested for drowning his wife in a resort-room pool in Phuket last October was handed down a life sentence by Phuket Provincial Court yesterday (Dec 24), reports Ecns.cn, the official English-language website of China News Service (CNS).

Chinese tourist sentenced to life for killing wife at Phuket resort | News by Samui Times

The China News Service is the second largest state-owned news agency in China, after the Xinhua News Agency.

The tourist, Zhang Yifan, 32, from Tianjin, was initially charged with manslaughter after confessing to killing his wife, 29-year-old Zhang Jia, in a fit of rage at a luxury resort in Kamala on Oct 29 last year.

Police later changed the charge to premeditated murder after investigating claims by Ms Zhang’s family that Zhang had taken out life insurance policies for his wife’s death amounting to more than B142 million baht in compensation. (See reports by The Phuket News  here and here.)

Zhang had refuted accusations that the incident was preplanned and intentional, Ecns reported, citing a slew of reports by China Central Television, Beijing News and Chinese-language news portal ThePaper.cn.

However, in the trial lasting 14 months, Phuket Provincial Court yesterday found that Zhang had committed intentional homicide, the report said.

The murder charge is punishable by death, but the judge commuted the sentence to life imprisonment in consideration that Zhang acknowledged the killing in his final statement, reported Ecns.

Thai prosecutors did recommend the death penalty in their submission to the court, the report added. (See report here.)

After learning that Zhang had bought multiple insurance policies amounting to more than 26 million yuan just months before the trip, with all of them listing him as the sole beneficiary, police in Tianjin last December started looking into fraud allegations and found seven of the policies were not signed by his wife, noted the report.

Zhang denied the fraud accusations, saying the insurance policies were investments, and that while he admitted he had forged her signature on two whole life policies, he insisted that she has been informed, the website said.

Investigators in Tianjin also found the husband had tipped a female livestreamer money adding up to 400,000 yuan, and sent her a luxury bag, the report added.

Zhang Yifan first alleged he was asleep when the body was discovered by hotel staff, but the account was regarded with suspicion after police identified bruises on Ms Zhang’s neck and arms, the newspaper said, quoting Thai police.

During the trial, however, Zhang insisted that his wife drowned after they got into a fight in the resort-room swimming pool, a claim confirmed by Kamala Police last December.

More than 16 people, including prosecutors and members of the victim’s family, testified against Zhang during the first eight hearings of the trials. Zhang represented himself in the ninth and final hearing, the Ecns reported.

“We’re a bit disappointed at anything less than the death sentence, considering the abundance of evidence we supplied,” said Zhang Hongyuan, a consultant at a Bangkok-based law firm representing the victim’s family, said the report.

“But there’s still room for both sides to appeal,” she added.

The Phuket News

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