Chinese fugitive’s face lets him down after 10 years on the run

Long-term debtor among 65 apprehended by police using facial recognition system at gems expo

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 6:38pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2018, 6:52pm

A Chinese man who absconded after losing a court case almost a decade ago was among 65 fugitives apprehended by police using facial recognition technology at a trade show.

The suspect, identified only by his surname Wang, was spotted among the crowds of visitors attending a gems expo in Chenzhou, central China’s Hunan province, which opened last week, the Shanghai-based news website Thepaper.cn reported on Wednesday.

“I didn’t expect that coming to an expo would expose me to the courts,” Wang was quoted as saying. “I won’t run from my debts in future.”

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The Chenzhou native had been involved in a legal dispute in 2008, but disappeared after losing the case in court and failing to settle what he owed, the report said, without elaborating.

After being apprehended, he agreed to pay an on-the-spot fine of 50,000 yuan (US$7,800) to clear his slate.

The facial recognition system was installed at the show as part of a coordinated effort by court officials and police in Chenzhou to bring people suspected or convicted of evading their debts and related costs to justice.

Over the course of five days, a total of 536,878 yuan was collected in on-the-spot fines, and of the 65 people identified as fugitives, 17 were subsequently detained, the report said.

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Authorities across China have been engaged in nationwide campaign to crack down on debt-related crime and in some areas have resorted to naming and shaming perpetrators on high street billboards and even in short films shown at cinemas.

Police are increasingly using facial recognition technology at large-scale public events to help them capture fugitives. In the past two months, three fans of Chinese pop star Jacky Cheung have been arrested while attending his concerts.