NZ police find woman's body in abandoned toddler case

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WELLINGTON, Sep 19 (Reuters) New Zealand police today found the body of a young Asian woman in a car outside the home of a three-year old toddler, who was abandoned at a train station in Australia.

But police in New Zealand, Australia and the United States are still hunting for the girl's father, who they believe caught a flight to Los Angeles after abandoning toddler Qian Xun Xue, nicknamed ''Pumpkin'', in the Australian city of Melbourne.

Police stopped short of naming the dead woman as Anan Liu, the 27-year old missing mother of the girl, but said they had informed the woman's mother in China of the find and said they were treating the death as a homicide.

The body was found in the boot of a car parked outside the Auckland house Qian Xun Xue lived with her mother Anan Liu and father, 54 year-old magazine publisher Nai Zin Xue.

''We would very much like to speak with Mr Xue, the registered owner of the vehicle who we believe is in the United States,'' Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Scott told reporters.

The case has attracted widespread media attention in Australia and New Zealand after images of Qian Xun Xue left alone at a train station on Saturday were aired on television.

Earlier, police said that Nai Zin Xue was the subject of a court order last year due to violent attacks on his wife, and that a large ceremonial sword had been taken from him, which he claimed back the day before he left New Zealand for Melbourne.

Anan Liu was reported to have fled to China to escape him but later returned to Auckland.

A women's refuge said Anan Liu spent a month with them last year and she was given legal help to get a protection order against Xue.

''She disclosed that she had been in a violent situation with him before and that it wasn't the first time he had physically beaten her badly,'' co-ordinator Shila Nair told Radio New Zealand.

New Zealand lawmaker Pansy Wong, who knew the family, said the child's grandmother wants to come from China to look after the child, who is currently in the care of a foster family in Melbourne.

''First of all she wants to unite with Qian Xun and also wants to be really in the midst of knowing what is happening of finding her missing daughter,'' Wong told Radio New Zealand.

Auckland police also said a woman claiming to be Xue's other daughter from his first marriage, who had been missing since 2000, had called them and given information about the type of man her father was.

Xue appeared in a television documentary last year pleading with his elder daughter to return home.

REUTERS SYU DS1253

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