Auckland's body in a suitcase killing reached the High Court today when three 22-year-old Chinese language students went on trial for the kidnap and murder of a fellow student.
The Crown claims two of the three spent several months hatching a plan for kidnap and ransom - and a possible murder.
They eventually chose Wan Biao, 19, a teenager they had met at their language college.
Crown Prosecutor Christine Gordon told a jury in the High Court in Auckland that Mr Wan was strangled in an apartment hotel, knifed after he was dead, then stuffed into a suitcase which was thrown into the Waitemata.
Cui Xiang Xin, Li Zheng and Wang Xuxi all face charges of kidnapping and murdering Mr Wan.
Li's flatmate Yin Lianda will testify for the Crown.
Ms Gordon said Cui and Li planned the kidnap, settling on Mr Wan whom they knew socially.
They had some help from Li's flatmates Wang and Mr Yin, she said.
Ms Gordon added Mr Wan was murdered in the hotel room in downtown Auckland on April 12, the day before Easter, last year.
After trying unsuccessfully to cut off the victim's head, Cui and Li allegedly put his body into the suitcase which they dumped in the harbour from Princes Wharf with the aid of Mr Yin.
The suitcase, fished out of the water on Good Friday, contained the body, two saws and a pair of cargo pants.
Li's passport was found in a pocket of the pants.
Also packed in the case was a towel which could only have come from the Elliott Street Apartments Hotel which Wang had booked under a false address, Ms Gordon said.
Detailing the events they led to the killing, Ms Gordon said Cui, Li, Wang and Mr Yin were all friends.
Three of them lived at Wang's Hobson St flat in downtown Auckland, while Cui stayed there when he was visiting Auckland from Hamilton.
She said Cui and Li had talked about kidnapping somebody for some time, and that they had discussed the project with Wang and Mr Yin.
"Importantly, they were open about the fact that they would likely need to kill the person they kidnapped," Ms Gordon said.
Wang later told police that Cui and Li asked him if he could face up to it if the kidnapped person was killed, she said.
Ms Gordon said that after Wang told Li and Cui that the offence should not happen at the Hobson St flat, Wang booked a room at the Elliott St hotel on April 12 using his correct name and phone number but a false address.
That day Cui bought two saws and two face masks at a downtown store and s ecurity camera footage showed Li and Cui carrying two bags into the hotel about 4.30pm which the Crown claims contained the saws.
Ms Gordon said Li sent a series of text messages that lured Mr Wan to the hotel room.
After the young man arrived, on the night of April 12, he was lashed to a chair.
Li and Cui then tried and failed to phone the victim's father in China before getting through about 9.30pm to his mother, telling her that her son had been kidnapped.
Mr Wan spoke to his mother, confirming what had happened.
Li was later seen on camera leaving the hotel and a withdrawal of $800 was made from Mr Wan's bank account.
After returning to the hotel, the accused phoned Mr Wan's mother and demanded 4 million Chinese yuan, about $800,000. Mr Wan again spoke to his mother.
"Some time after the second call, the Crown says Cui and Li strangled Wan Biao and didn't stop until he was dead," she said.
Cui and Li then stabbed him in the neck with a knife after he had died.
"The pathologist said that he died from strangulation, but that act with the knife may give you some insight as to what the ultimate aim of Li and Cui was - to kill their victim."
Ms Gordon added Li and Cui wanted to cut the body up and put it in a bag but they were unable to sever Mr Wan's head with the saws in the bathroom of the hotel room.
She said they then called Mr Yin, who was dining with Wang, asking him to return to the Hobson St flat so they could pick up a suitcase from storage at the apartment building. Before meeting Mr Yin, Li took another $800 from Mr Wan's account.
Ms Gordon said Li took the suitcase back in, tried to clean up the bathroom with Cui and then put the body in the suitcase.
They then contacted Mr Yin to hail a taxi when they left, and then departed the hotel for Princes Wharf.
Ms Gordon said Cui and Li, with Mr Yin following them, took the suitcase to the end of the wharf and dumped it in the harbour.
She said Cui used the money withdrawn from Mr Wan's account the next day to fly to Sydney because the group wanted the ransom money to be paid into an overseas bank account.
Mr Wan's body was found the next day, an event which had substantial media coverage.
Ms Gordon said Mr Wan's mother was phoned again the same day and told "your son offended us, he deserved to have this result. The New Zealand newspapers have already reported it, have you read it yet?"
Ms Gordon's opening address will finish tomorrow. Lawyers for the three accused are expected to give short opening addresses, after which the first witnesses will be called.
Earlier, Justice Priestley told the jury not to let any views they had about Chinese students and immigration to cloud their judgment of the facts.
The trial before the jury of seven women and five men is due to run for four weeks.