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Chinese fugitive released from Canadian jail

Chinese fugitive released from Canadian jail

One of China's most wanted fugitives was ordered released from a Canadian jail Tuesday.
Lai Changxing was released while a court reviews a deportation order that could see him returned home to face smuggling and bribery charges.
Lai Changxing has spent 12 years fighting his return to China, where he's accused of heading a network that smuggled billions of dollars worth of goods into China with the protection of corrupt officials.
The Canada Border Services Agency arrested Lai last week as the possibility of his deportation drew closer, fearing he would flee.
Lai will appear in Canada's Federal Court later this month seeking a stay of his deportation as he argues he could be tortured or killed if returned to his home country.
Immigration and Refugee Board adjudicator Leeann King ordered his release from custody Tuesday until that court hearing, concluding Lai is not a flight risk.
King said Lai faced a similar expulsion in 2006 but didn't flee then, and instead has complied with most of his conditions.
"Mr. Lai didn't flee, didn't attempt to evade (border) officers and didn't beach his terms," said King.
Lai, who was listening to the decision over the telephone from jail, let out an audible sigh when he heard the decision.
After his arrest in 1999, Lai was initially under house arrest with a cash bond, then under a curfew and eventually he even obtained a work permit as his case dragged on.
Before fleeing to Canada in 1999, Lai lived a life of luxury in China complete with a mansion and a bulletproof Mercedes Benz automobile.
He has been described in Chinese news reports as the country's No. 1 fugitive.
Lai and his ex-wife had long maintained that they would face capital punishment if returned to China. The case has become a thorn in Canada-China relations.
Canada and China do not have an extradition treaty, and China has given assurances that Lai will not face execution if he returns. But Matas said the assurances cannot be believed.
The couple, who are now divorced, and their three children applied for asylum after arriving in Canada. They said the refugee board that in 2002 initially turned down their asylum claim failed to see they were at risk of political persecution in China. The case has proceeded through court challenges and appeals ever since.
Lai's ex-wife Tsang Mingna, whom he divorced in 2005, and one of their grown daughters returned to China in 2009 under a deal worked out with officials.
In 2001, then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin sent former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien a diplomatic note with assurances Lai would not be executed if returned to China.
China has said repeatedly that the Lai case was the country's biggest scandal. Exhibitions and television shows have detailed his alleged crimes and excesses. Authorities say he plied officials with prostitutes and booze in a specially built seven-story mansion.
Lai's lawyer, David Matas, has said eight people connected to the case have already been executed in China and others have been jailed for sending Lai funds for his defense.
Lai's deportation review is scheduled for July 21. He could be returned to China as soon as July 25 is his appeal fails.


Updated : 2021-04-13 22:09 GMT+08:00