BEIJING -- A Beijing court sentenced a Chinese man to life in prison Thursday for murdering his girlfriend in Canada, a case that raised diplomatic issues because Beijing insisted on holding the trial even though the crime happened in another country.

The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate Court ruled that Li Ang was guilty of "intentional homicide" in the death of Amanda Zhao, whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase 10 years ago in Vancouver, Li's lawyer Zou Jiaming said.

Li and Zhao were in a relationship and living together in the western Canadian city, where both were students.

Li was a suspect in the case but fled to China days after Zhao's body was found, setting off a tricky diplomatic situation because China by law does not extradite its citizens and says it can put them on trial itself regardless of where a crime occurred.

Last year, a Shanghai court sentenced a man to 15 years in jail for murdering a taxi driver in New Zealand.

Police in Canada tried to have Li, who changed his name to Li Jiaming, extradited to Canada. When China refused, Canadian police agreed to provide evidence for the trial.

It is thought that authorities in New Zealand and Canada – countries opposed to capital punishment – agreed to provide evidence in the two cases in return for promises there would be no death penalty, which is used in China more than anywhere else.

A Canadian diplomat who was in the court Thursday declined to comment.

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  • In this Aug. 9, 2012 file video image taken from CCTV, Gu Kailai, center, the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, stands during her trial in the Hefei Intermediate People's Court in Hefei in eastern China's Anhui province. (AP Photo/CCTV via APTN, File)

  • In this Aug. 9, 2012 file photo, police officers stand guard as officials and court spectators come out from the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court, where a murder trial of Gu Kailai, wife of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai, takes place in Hefei, Anhui Province, China. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

  • Bo Xilai, Gu Kailai

    In this Jan. 17, 2007 file photo, Gu Kailai, left, wife of then Chinaese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai, right, attends a memorial ceremony for Bo's father Bo Yibo, a late revolutionary leader considered one of communist China's founding fathers, at a military hospital in Beijing. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan, File)

  • In this March 11, 2012 file photo, then Chongqing party secretary Bo Xilai attends a plenary session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Bo's wife Gu Kailai who is accused of murdering Bo family associate, British businessman Neil Heywood, went on trial Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012 at the Hefei Intermediate People's Court in eastern China. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

  • This video image taken from CCTV shows Gu Kailai, left, the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, in the Intermediate People's Court in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei Thursday Aug. 9, 2012. According to testimony Thursday in one of China's highest-profile murder trials in years, Gu lured British businessman Neil Heywood to a hotel in the southwestern mega-city of Chongqing, where she got him drunk and fed him poison. (AP Photo/CCTV via APTN)

  • Gu Kailai

    This video image taken from CCTV shows Gu Kailai, second left, the wife of disgraced politician Bo Xilai, being taken into the Intermediate People's Court in the eastern Chinese city of Hefei Thursday Aug. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/CCTV via APTN)