A young Chinese man suspected of murdering his former Norwegian girlfriend last month in Budapest, where they both were students, is under arrest and now faces charges in China. He reportedly turned himself in and has admitted to her murder.
Zhao Fei, age 26, was taken into custody on Wednesday, when funeral services were being held in Oslo for 21-year-old Pernille Marie Thronsen. She was found murdered on August 29 in an apartment in a student housing complex that had been rented by Zhao.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reports that Zhao gave himself up to Chinese police, and newspaper Dagbladet reports that he has admitted to killing Thronsen, whose body was found with multiple stab wounds.
Suspect had fled Hungary
Hungarian police had quickly identified Zhao as the key suspect, not least because of sorrowful messages he had posted about Thronsen on the social media service Facebook. He also had disappeared, and Hungarian police announced later that he had fled the country on a flight out of Budapest the same weekend Thronsen’s body was found.
They wouldn’t reveal his flight destination but it was believed he went home to China, which is not a member of Interpol and has no extradition treaty with Hungary.
Chinese authorities have now contacted their counterparts in Hungary, reports NRK, seeking information from the Hungarian police’s criminal investigation. Norwegian authorities were also contacted, since the murder victim was Norwegian.
“It’s the Hungarian police who now must follow up with the Chinese police,” Ragnhild Imerslund of Norway’s foreign ministry told NRK.no. “That where the case lies now.”
It’s believed unlikely that Zhao will be returned to Hungary to face murder charges, and that he instead will go on trial in China. Human rights organizations now fear that Zhao may be executed, a common punishment for murder convicts in China. In Hungary he would face a prison sentence of 20 years.
According to newspaper Dagbladet, the Chinese police claim they took “immediate” contact with the Hungarian authorities after Zhao turned himself in, and told them that he had admitted that he murdered “the Norwegian citizen Pernille.”