A spokesman for the Iowa City Police Department says they were able to work through any international barriers to lead to the arrest in the death of an Iowa State University student. Chinese authorities arrested Xiangnan Li — a student at the University of Iowa — in the death of Tong Shao, who had attended Iowa State University.
Both are from China. Iowa City Police Sergeant, Zach Dierson says they began working with Chinese officials soon after learning Xiangnan Li had fled there. “They had sent a delegation to Iowa City here a couple of weeks ago, and we spent a week with seven of their detectives and prosectors going over our case and the evidence and visiting crime scenes. And essentially transferring everything that they would need from us to do a prosecution over there in China,” Dierson says.
Dierson says they had to work through some things to present the evidence to the Chinese delegation. “Any time you speak a different language, there’s barriers associated with that. But they did bring translators with them,” Dierson says. “As you can imagine, it’s more cumbersome when everything you say has to be translated — everything I tell them and then everything they say back — so, it is a little bit more cumbersome. But I do believe the interaction went well.”
He says it all led to the charge “intentional homicide” against Xiangnan Li. “Ultimately they got what they needed to feel comfortable prosecuting him over in China,” Dierson says. Tong Shoa had been reported missing in September of last year, and her body was found nine days later in the trunk of her car in Iowa City.
Dierson was asked if it is difficult to let the case be tried in China after months of investigation here. “I don’t think that that is the big difference maker. I think what’s important is that there is justice, not only for our victim, but for the victim’s family. And I think a prosecution in China accomplishes that just as well as it accomplishes it here,” according to Dierson.
Dierson says the prosecution in China may require an Iowa City officer to testify there. “That was discussed when we met with this delegation and a I think it is pretty likely that we will have to send at least one detective over to China to testify during the trial. But those dates haven’t been set yet,” Dierson says. Chinese law says an “intentional killer” can be sentenced to as little as 10 years in prison or be sentenced to death.