Girlfriend of British teacher arrested by China over his murder

HONG KONG (AFP) - The girlfriend of a British lecturer has been arrested with two men over his murder in southern China, Chinese police said on Friday (April 15), with local media reporting he was dismembered after he was killed.

Mr Hilary Bower, 60, who taught at a university in Hong Kong, was murdered over an "emotional dispute", mainland Chinese police said, as media reports painted a complex picture of his love life involving several women.

The English-language lecturer had been missing for more than three weeks after he was last seen on March 21 at a border point between Hong Kong and the neighbouring southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, where he is reported to have lived.

Hong Kong police said earlier this week that Mr Bower had been killed on the mainland, "possibly" murdered.

Police in Shenzhen confirmed on Friday that he had been murdered on March 22, a day after he went missing.

A 38-year-old woman surnamed Xu and two men "murdered her foreigner boyfriend Hilary Bower over an emotional dispute" the Shenzhen public security bureau said on its Twitter-like Weibo account.

It said Mr Bower and Ms Xu had lived together for 17 years.

The three were arrested on April 8 and the case was still under investigation, it added.

Hong Kong local media, citing unnamed public security sources, reported that Ms Xu had turned herself in to police in the Chinese city of Dongguan on April 7, where she had told officers she had murdered and then dismembered Bower with the help of two men.

The Dongguan public security bureau could not confirm the details when contacted by AFP.

The local media said Mr Bower had a number of girlfriends on the mainland.

One girlfriend, named by media as Ms Shi Xiumei, had reported Mr Bower missing at a police station in Hong Kong on March 30, Hong Kong police said earlier this week.

Mr Bower had been reported to be living with Ms Shi and their six-year-old son.

Fears were previously raised that his death could have been linked to a million-dollar property deal.

A friend of Mr Bower, Mr Richard Charles, told the South China Morning Post he believed it could be related to a recent property sale for which Mr Bower was due to receive HK$9 million.

Mr Bower's brother Robin arrived in Shenzhen on Wednesday, where he hoped to meet with the Chinese authorities to search for answers, the Post said.

The British consulate has not confirmed that Mr Bower was killed, and said on Friday it was supporting the family "at this difficult time", without giving more details.

Mr Bower had also taught in China, South Korea, Thailand, Spain and Kuwait, according to his personal homepage on the university website.