Mounties review decision to free murder suspect

WebPosted Jun 11 2004 08:12 PM PDT

VANCOUVER - An RCMP spokesperson says police were taken off guard by a judge's decision to dismiss charges against a man accused of being an accessory to the murder of a Burnaby student in 2002.


Han Zhang

Han Zhang

In freeing Han Zhang on Thursday, the judge blamed the RCMP for infringing the man's constitutional rights during his interrogation.


Mr. Justice Paul Williamson says police failed to inform Zhang of his rights and denied him access to a Mandarin-speaking lawyer, despite repeated his requests for one.



File :Ang Li

File :Ang Li

Zhang had been charged with being an accessory-after-the-fact in the murder of 21-year-old Amanda Zhao whose body was later found in the Fraser Valley.


The Crown said he helped Zhao's former boyfriend, Ang Li, dispose of her body after Li allegedly killed her.



Sgt. John Ward says police will now study the judge's reasons, to find out what went wrong.


File: Victim Amanda Zhao

File: Victim Amanda Zhao

"I can tell you that we're disappointed at this particular point, but we have to temper that until we can exactly see what happened," he says.


"And then determine if we need to review the interview to determine exactly what took place during the interview."


And Ward admits police are concerned that Zhang could leave the country, before the Crown decides whether there are grounds to appeal Thursday's decision.


The Crown has 30 days to make that decision.


Ang Li returned to China shortly after the discovery of Zhao's body – before he became the police's prime suspect.


The Burnaby RCMP have been criticized for allowing him to leave the country just days after her death – while the investigation was still ongoing.


There were also problems with the investigation almost from the beginning. Early on, investigators admitted they didn't move fast enough when Zhao was reported missing.