NEWS

Li Zhao's lawyer calls claims of dismembered millionaire's family 'outrageous'

05/21/2015 11:36 EDT | Updated 05/21/2016 05:59 EDT
The lawyer for Li Zhao, who is charged with murdering and dismembering wealthy Chinese businessman Gang Yuan in B.C., says the allegations made by the victim's family at a news conference are "outrageous" and "scandalous speculation."

In an unusual news conference on Wednesday, Yuan's family said he had financially supported the accused killer and his family. 

"So the question arises, why would someone kill his benefactor?" said Chris Johnson, who represents the victim's brother. "With the known facts, there is really only one conclusion: Mr. Zhao did this for financial reasons. He thought that he could get a free house. Not just any house, but a very valuable house in West Vancouver."

On Thursday, Brent B. Olthuis, the lawyer for Zhao as well as his wife and daughter, said his clients were not given advance notice of the press conference or enough time to properly respond. 

"Your report repeats scandalous speculation and outrageous allegations from Mr. Yuan's counsel," Olthuis said in an email to CBC News. "The reported comments are inconsistent with the criminal charges Mr. Zhao faces, and in any event concern matters that are before the court. They are not proven facts."

The lawyer called the press conference sensationalist. 

"My clients have grave concerns as to what motivated the press conference and are considering all of their legal rights at this stage. In the meantime, they wish it to be noted that they deny all of the allegations apparently made during the press conference and that were reported."

Violent confrontation

Zhao was arrested after the discovery of Yuan's dismembered body in the British Properties on May 2.

Johnson said police advised the family that Yuan's body was cut into more than 100 pieces. In addition to second-degree murder, Zhao is also charged with interfering with a dead body. He has a bail hearing next week.

"Because they were struggling, Mr. Yuan took them in," Johnson said on Wednesday. "He gave them employment and ultimately came to support them and their daughter, Yi Ming Zhao."

According to an affidavit filed by Yuan's brother, Qiang Yuan, the businessman was the real owner of the home where his body was found, but the property was placed in the names of Zhao and Li.

Qiang Yuan claims his brother supported the couple and paid for all expenses related to the house.

Now, Yuan's brother has filed a petition to stop Zhao or Li from accessing assets the family claims belonged to Yuan and to act as executor of the estate.  

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Read the statement from the Zhao family's lawyer denying the allegations.

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