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High-profile divorce saga ends

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

07:07, February 04, 2013

Kim Lee (center) speaks to media after a court ruling on her high-profi le divorce at the Chaoyang District People's Court in Beijing on Sunday. The court granted Lee properties worth more than 12 million yuan ($1.9 million) and custody of her three daughters. (China Daily/Zhu Xingxin)

The high-profile divorce of Li Yang, founder of the controversial "Crazy English" schools, and Kim Lee has ended with Li's extensive property portfolio being forfeited as compensation.

Kim, Li's former wife, will receive properties worth more than 12 million yuan ($1.9 million) from Li and have custody of their three daughters, under the verdict of the Chaoyang District People's Court in Beijing on Sunday.

Li was not present in court to hear the verdict.

The court confirmed Li had been violent with his wife, who is from the United States, and ordered him to pay her 50,000 yuan compensation for mental anguish and 100,000 yuan in child support per child every year, until they are 18.

The court granted Lee's request for a personal protection order, in line with the revised Civil Procedure Law, forbidding Li from threatening the 40-year-old Kim.

If Li disobeys the order, he could be detained, fined or even face a criminal charge.

Lee wiped away tears several times as the judge announced the verdict and she also sighed loudly when the judge said she will have custody of her three daughters.

She asked the media to give her a minute to calm down after the court hearing.

She told China Daily that she was very satisfied with the result and she was happy to have custody of her children.

"What I most want to say is 'don't hit wives'," she said, adding that she will live with her children in China, because the girls have been educated in the country.

"I have the ability to earn money, and we will have a new life," she said.

The court told her on Friday it would deliver its verdict on Sunday. She wrote on her micro blog that she was shocked the proceeding was reaching a conclusion.

"The case took a long, long time — about one year and a half. It's hard to use the law to protect myself in China," she said.

"I didn't sleep well last night (Saturday). I will have a nice sleep tonight," she added.

Chinese media asked her if she had a message for her former husband, Lee shook her head and remained silent.

Lee's attorney Qi Lianfeng praised the verdict and said he was pleased the court acknowledged Li's domestic violence. He said he was also pleased with the ruling about the properties.

"At first, my client didn't know about Li's properties, so it was hard for me to check Li's real estate and other properties. Now those efforts were not in vain, and I was content with the 12 million-yuan property compensation," he said.

"The most important thing about the case, I think, is the court's acknowledgement of Li's domestic violence, which will encourage more women to protect their rights in a legal way," he said.

Shi Ziyue, Li's attorney, said that Li was on a business trip in another province and could not be present because his flight was delayed. He said his client wanted to resolve the matter in an amicable manner.

"I don't know where Li is now. What I know is he has apologized to the public on television and on his micro blog. Regarding the divorce, my client respected Lee's decision, and as for the property compensation, Li said he accepted it," Shi said.

However, the lawyer said he did not agree with the acknowledgement of Li's domestic violence and Lee's filing for the protection order. He said he will discuss with Li whether to appeal the decision to a higher court or not.

"Domestic violence is when a man hits and injures his wife frequently over a long time but has no reason, but my client did that because he had conflicts with his wife," Shi said, adding that the public and media have been biased against Li.

Judge Liu Li said that under the current law, domestic violence is when a man hits, ties up or threatens his wife, causing her physical or mental harm.

She said Li's behavior caused injuries to Lee's head and leg and influenced the court's verdict.

"Each family is a cell of a stable society. Couples should not harm each other. Instead, they should be harmonious and peaceful," she added.

Kim Lee left the court with her attorney. She said she will celebrate the coming Spring Festival in the capital with her daughters and take them to temple fairs during the holiday.

"If Li wants to see the children, I'll agree," she added.

The former couple has been under the media spotlight since Lee disclosed photos of her bruised face and legs, injuries inflicted by her former husband after arguments in August 2011.

The judge said she would not comment on allegations made during the divorce proceedings that Li had committed bigamy because those would involve criminal law, but this was a civil dispute.

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