Jailed kingpin asks Canada to pressure China on health check-ups

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 8:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 February, 2017, 8:02am

The lawyer for a former Chinese ­tycoon serving a life sentence for smuggling has appealed to Canada to pressure mainland authorities to reinstate a series of health checks for his client.

Lai Changxing, once one of China’s most wanted fugitives, was extradited to China in 2011 under a deal that allowed Canada to request health checks for Lai, his lawyer said.

Lai’s lawyer, Shu Jie, said on Thursday that a number of monthly, six-monthly and weekly check-ups had been suspended since May without reason.

Shu said Lai’s older brother Lai Shuiqiang and an accountant with Lai’s company died of heart attacks in prison in 2002.

“We shouldn’t allow the same thing happen to Lai, not in today’s China, which upholds the law,” Shu wrote in a petition filed with ­Fujian’s provincial judiciary ­department on Monday.

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Lai is suffering from heart disease, angina and diabetes, according to a notice from the prison in 2014.

In a petition sent to the Canadian embassy in Beijing yesterday, Shu asked the Canadian ambassador to request mainland authorities allow Lai to undergo a full medical check-up.

As the suspected architect of a 50 billion yuan (HK$60.5 billion) smuggling ring in Xiamen, Fujian province, Lai was one of China’s most wanted fugitives when he fled to Canada via Hong Kong in August 1999.

Lai tried to apply for refugee status in Canada and sought to avoid deportation by claiming he could face the death penalty or be tortured if he was sent back to China.

But he was returned to China in 2011 after Beijing pledged not to give him a death sentence and a Canadian court ruled that Li would not be at risk. Lai was sentenced to life imprisonment for smuggling in 2013.

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The Canadian court ruling was partly based on the extradition agreement between China and Canada under which China must let “an independent Chinese medical establishment” examine Lai, if Canada requests it, according to the ruling.

In 2013, Lai’s family requested Canadian officials visit Lai, but the request was rejected, with the Canadian embassy saying those visits were only to take place before Lai’s conviction in China.

Lai’s health had worsened recently and two weeks ago, Lai’s family hired Canadian lawyer ­David Matas to sue the Canadian government for failure to fulfil its obligations, Shu said.

“He had a recent chest pain that lasted three hours. We’re seeking help because he’s in real danger,” Shu said.

Lai was among the most important fugitives extradited to China.

Beijing has carried out a sweeping anti-corruption campaign since 2012, and has pledged to go after fugitive corrupt officials, netting hundreds of them in less than five years.