Chinese fugitive turns himself in after 26 years because he can’t afford medical bills

Qu Shezai was originally sentenced to 2½ years in jail for theft in 1982. He escaped three times, changed his name and even went back to his hometown

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 July, 2018, 5:17pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 July, 2018, 5:17pm

A Chinese fugitive who had been on the run for 26 years after escaping from jail for a third time is back behind bars after turning himself in, saying his health is deteriorating and he cannot afford to pay his medical bills.

Qu Shezai, 61, was first sentenced to 2½ years in a Jiangxi province prison for theft back in 1982, Shanghai news outlet Thepaper.cn reported on Sunday.

But with just a year to go on his sentence, Qu escaped, only to be caught a month later and sent back to prison, with extra time added to his term for the breakout.

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A year on, he broke free again – and was again apprehended and sent back to jail 12 months later.

His sentence was extended, but when he was ordered to do prison labour herding cattle he decided to escape for a third time, according to the news website.

That was in 1992, and he had managed to evade the authorities for 26 years, changing his name and even returning to his hometown in Nanfeng county in 2004.

All three escapes happened when Qu was sent out to work outside the prison, according to the report.

Over the years while he was at large, Qu worked as a gardener, a construction worker, vegetable seller and rickshaw driver. But with no ID card, he could not get access to the welfare and medical care he needed as he began to experience health problems, the report said.

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Qu was sent back to prison in March after he turned himself in, and was later sentenced to another four years’ jail for his repeated breakouts and the time he had yet to serve from his previous convictions.

“[Qu] has not shown any remorse for his crimes and escaped multiple times – taking advantage of the labour programme outside jail – and shall be punished according to the law,” the court verdict said.