Int’l cooperation marks Shao case


Close cooperation between police from China and Iowa has ensured that the accused killer of Tong Shao, Xiangnan Li, will stand trial in China.

After Shao’s body was found on Sept. 26, 2014, Iowa authorities began weighing their options, Johnson County prosecutor Janet Lyness said.

“We quickly found out that China does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.,” Lyness said. “So we worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice to get in contact with the Chinese Consulate.”

Lyness said the Justice Department communicated with the Chinese authorities about the possibility of Li’s prosecution in China.

“I think that there was significant pressure from the Chinese government and the family of the victim on the authorities to make an arrest,” she said “The Department of Justice also indicated our hope that he would be prosecuted as well.”

After initially contacting Chinese authorities, Lyness sent a letter containing facts about the case to those authorities in April.

Several Chinese officials, including local, regional, and national police, as well as a government prosecutor, came to Iowa during the first week of June.

At that time, that authorities in Iowa learned Li had turned himself in to Chinese police in late May.

“We really had no idea until they came over that he had been arrested,” Lyness said. “No one from Iowa went over to China as a part of this investigation.”

The Chinese police met with Iowa City police, the Johnson County Attorney’s Office, Ames police, the medical examiner on the case, and several witnesses.

They also visited several sites related to the case, including the victim’s home in Ames, as well as where the victim’s body was discovered in Iowa City.

Lyness said that after this trip, the Chinese officials returned and formally charged Li with intentional homicide.

“I believe that is comparable with a first- or second-degree premeditated homicide over here,” she said.

‘The authorities over there have said they will keep us updated about when the trial takes place. He is going to face trial; that’s what’s important.”

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