Sex, lies, and lawsuits

A divorce case unfolding in a Shanghai court has all the ingredients for a successful movie - romance, deceit, melodrama and tragedy.

A groom disappeared the day before his wedding, leaving his blushing bride to attend the formal ceremony alone and concoct an unlikely scenario for guests. She put on a brave face and told them her beau was too ill to attend.

The groom showed up two days later and asked for a divorce and a hefty settlement from their wedding apartment, saying he had a long-term girlfriend he wanted to marry.

Sun Yu is disputing the case his wife, Wei Xiaoying, has taken to the Putuo District People's Court.

He is seeking 694,000 yuan (US$101,574) he claims he gave Wei before their marriage.

Wei and Sun, both 29, registered their marriage on May 22, 2008, after being lovers for eight years. The ceremony formalizing the union was scheduled for June 9 the same year.

On the day before the wedding, Sun vanished after saying he was going to his parents' home to fetch something for the ceremony. Wei and her parents went to the home of Sun's parents but were told nobody knew where he had gone.

The bride thought Sun might have been involved in an accident and reported the matter to police.

When ceremony time came around, Wei pretended to be happy and told guests of her husband's 'illness.'

Family in tears

When the ceremony ended, the bride cried with her parents, yesterday's hearing was told.

'I was longing for the wedding and I didn't expect it to turn out like that after waiting for eight years,' Wei told the court. 'There wasn't any hint that he would leave before the wedding.'

When Sun turned up two days after the ceremony, he asked for a divorce so he could marry his girlfriend of six years.

He also told Wei, a former colleague, that he had a job in a foreign company. In fact, he had been unemployed for the previous six months, the court was told.

Wei denied his divorce request, and a battle over property rights followed.

Wei said she suffered from extreme mental anguish. She had to seek psychological help and could not work or live normally. Her parents were also sick.

Wei filed the lawsuit with the court in April seeking to divide the property fairly and asked for 50,000 yuan compensation for mental anguish.

Sun wants 694,000 yuan he gave Wei to buy an apartment for the wedding. Wei alleges the money was a gift.

Sun refused to pay compensation, saying Wei was not hurt mentally. He said his wedding absence was a clear message that he did not want to be with her.

The court, not surprisingly, did not reach a verdict yesterday