Family fears top fugitive won't get fair hearing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 November, 2011, 12:00am


Zeng Hanlin, the high-profile fugitive repatriated to China from Canada, appeared before a Chengdu court in Sichuan province yesterday, a relative said.

The 65-year-old Zeng, who was one of China's 10 most-wanted fugitives, was returned to his homeland in February. His niece, Zeng Ming, attended the hearing and said her uncle appeared before the Jinniu District Intermediate People's Court yesterday on charges of contract fraud.

'We requested an open and fair hearing that would have allowed the media and the public to attend, but [our request] fell on deaf ears,' she said. 'The 20-odd seats inside the courtroom were almost all occupied by officials, with only two being assigned to our family members.'

Zeng's son, Sam Zeng, speaking in Hong Kong, said his father had been prohibited from meeting relatives since being repatriated to China. Sam said doctors in Canada had diagnosed his father as having high blood pressure and diabetes along with other health concerns.

'But Chengdu authorities failed to provide proper treatment or enough medication for him, causing my father to write a letter to family members in Canada to seek help,' Sam said.

The family worried whether he would receive a fair trial

Zeng, former chairman of the Guangdong Flying Dragon Group, a transportation and mechanical engineering company, is alleged to have been involved in a 35 million yuan(HK$43 million) stock-fraud case between October 1997 and August 1998. His son said that Sichuan authorities had deliberately ignored evidence that could have helped his father, causing him to lose a lawsuit in 1999 that stripped him of all his property.

Zeng was later implicated in a related criminal case, and fled to Canada with his family in 2000 using passports issued by the Dominican Republic. Mainland prosecutors issued an arrest warrant in August of that year, prompting Interpol to alert member states.