Beijing still hopeful of fugitive's repatriation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2007, 12:00am

Authorities had not given up hope of extraditing smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing , a senior legal official said, despite news last week that the Canadian government had dropped its appeal against a court ruling blocking his deportation.

Lai's 1999 escape to Canada, with which Beijing does not have an extradition treaty, has caused diplomatic friction between the two countries.

The Fujianese businessman is accused of having run a multibillion-US dollar smuggling ring under the cover of his Yuan Hua Group.

Although Canada's government agreed Lai and his wife should be returned to the mainland, its courts have so far ruled otherwise. A new assessment of the risk Lai and his family face if repatriated is now under way.

'Results of a new assessment will be out soon. If it is in favour of us, Lai may be extradited in about six months. Otherwise it may take another one or two years,' yesterday's Beijing News quoted an official from the Supreme People's Procuratorate's international co-operation bureau as saying.

China's most-wanted man claimed in November that he had close ties to Politburo Standing Committee member Jia Qinglin and threatened to expose more senior party officials should he be forced back to China.

Chinese officials had also urged the early conclusion of extradition agreements with more western countries to help repatriate fugitive corrupt officials, China Daily reported yesterday.

Most corrupt officials who had escaped overseas had settled in the US, Canada and Australia, the officials said. European destinations such as the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands were also popular.

But China has not signed extradition treaties with any of these countries.

Of the 29 countries with which Beijing has signed such treaties, only three - Spain, Portugal and France - are developed countries.

Safe havens

Most corrupt officials who have escaped abroad have settled in the US, Canada and Australia, according to mainland officials

The number of officials accused of embezzling billions of yuan at large overseas, according to a Supreme People's Procuratorate official, is more than 200



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