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Czech Republic denies China's request for Taiwanese telecom fraud suspects

Czech Republic cites inhumane treatment as grounds to reject China's request for Taiwanese telecom fraud suspects

(Pixabay photo)

(Pixabay photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The Czech Republic on Monday (July 15) rebuffed Beijing's request to extradite eight Taiwanese telecom fraud suspects on the grounds that they could face inhumane treatment.

The Czech Republic announced on Monday that eight Taiwanese telecom fraud suspects would be given "subsidiary protection." This act, in effect, rejects China's request for extradition and refuted previous Czech court rulings.

The Chinese government alleges that the suspects had posed as Chinese public security officers and dialed overseas phone numbers to defraud Chinese nationals living in Australia. Defense lawyers argued that the Czech government believes that the Taiwanese suspects would be treated inhumanely in China.

Czech Social Democratic Party Chairman and Interior Minister Jan Hamacek on Twitter on Monday confirmed that the eight Taiwanese suspects requested by China for extradition would receive "subsidiary projection" from the ministry, but he described it as "complementary protection" and not asylum. He did not further elaborate on the case saying that it was a "private administrative proceeding."

In addition to official refugee status, EU countries often grant so-called "subsidiary protection" to asylum seekers. This temporarily saves them from being repatriated and can be extended beyond a certain period of time to prevent them from being persecuted.

Miroslav Krutina, a defense attorney in Taiwan, said that according to the Czech Republic's Ministry of the Interior, there are real dangers in China, such as inhumane treatment, torture, and the risk of being sentenced to death, reported Liberty Times. Therefore, the ministry opted to provide them with "subsidiary protection."

In January of last year, Chinese authorities asked Interpol to look for a group of telecom scammers including eight Taiwanese citizens. China alleges that since 2017, eight Taiwanese suspects have disguised themselves as police, prosecutors, or government officials to defraud Chinese women living in Australia, netting the ring a profit of 60 million Czech koruna (US$2.6 million).

Later that month, the Czech police made the arrests in a suburb of the capital Prague, reported CNA. As soon as the Taiwanese office in the Central European country learned of the arrests, it sent an official to hear about their situation and helped them find an attorney, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) spokeswoman said.

The ministry also requested the European Union to safeguard the human rights of Taiwanese citizens arrested in its member countries, MOFA said. A local court decided last August that the eight Taiwanese could be deported to China, and a High Court upheld that decision just last month, according to CNA.

The High Court had accepted Chinese guarantees of a "fair trial" and "no death penalty." MOFA responded by asking for respect for the suspects’ human rights, which appears to have resonated with Hamacek.

Last week, the Swedish Supreme Court decided not to extradite former Chinese official Qiao Jianjun, who was charged with embezzlement, on the grounds that he was at risk of facing persecution.