Chinese smuggler jailed after 12 years on the run

May 19th, 2012 - 4:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, May 19 (IANS) A smuggling kingpin, once the most wanted fugitive in China who spent 12 years on the run in Canada, has been sentenced to life in prison after he was extradited from Ottawa.

Lai Changxing, born in 1958, was the head of a smuggling ring in Xiamen in Fujian province. He fled to Canada in 1999 after authorities cracked down on the ring.

Lai was repatriated to China in July last year and prosecuted for smuggling and bribery in February.

A court in Xiamen Friday ruled that Lai be deprived of his political rights for life, the China Daily reported.

The gang smuggled goods worth over 27 billion yuan (more than $4 billion). Lai was also convicted for bribing 64 government officials with cash and assets worth 29 million yuan ($4.6 million).

The investigation and trial lasted from August 1999 to April 2001, during which more than 300 people were indicted. As many as 14 people were sentenced to death.

The case was one of the country’s longest extradition cases.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the case showed that it is important for China and Canada to cooperate in law enforcement.

Lai arrived in Canada in 1999 on a tourist visa and sought refugee status.

The Chinese government asked Canada to deport Lai, but the Supreme Court of Canada usually ruled against the extradition of suspects facing the death penalty in their home countries.

China said it would not to execute Lai nor torture him. In July last year, a federal court in Ottawa ordered Lai to be sent back his country.

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