China promised not to sentence
accused smuggler Lai Changxing to death because this was essential to have him
repatriated from Canada, the Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday, citing a
Supreme Court spokesman.
Lai Changxing [file
Lai, who fled to Canada in 1999 after being accused of running a huge
smuggling ring in the southern province of Fujian, has been battling extradition
He has challenged a risk-assessment ruling by Canadian immigration officials
that said he would not be subject to torture or execution if returned.
"We made the promise (not to sentence Lai to death) to seek his repatriation,
and it is the only correct option to punish crimes and safeguard the interests
of the nation," court spokesman Ni Shouming was quoted as saying.
Lai, who fled with his wife and children, was accused of being the mastermind
behind the country's largest smuggling ring. He fled to Canada in 1999 and
remains there. China wants to bring him back to face charges of smuggling,
bribery and tax evasion. Lai
denies any wrongdoing and refuses to be repatriated to face the justice in
Ni said that China had two options: refusing to make any promise
and giving up the efforts for Lai's repatriation, or making a promise to have
"Such a promise has nothing to do with justice
fairness," Ni was reported as saying.
Last year, Canada's Federal Court
stayed a deportation order against Lai, allowing him to launch further appeals
against the order. Lai's bid for refugee status had already been denied all the
way up to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Last year, 11 suspects wanted for embezzlement were extradited
from overseas and 77.2 million yuan (about US$9.9 million) was retrieved,
according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
The achievement was made through the Procuratorate's cooperation with
relevant government organizations and overseas judicial and procuratorial
departments, says the Procuratorate.
So far, the Supreme People's Procuratorate has signed 83 cooperation deals
and memorandums with 75 overseas judicial and procuratorial departments, Legal
Daily quoted the Procuratorate assaying.
The suspects, most of whom are from the financial sector or state-owned
enterprises (SOEs), used overseas business connections to flee the country,the
Supreme People's Procuratorate says.
The procuratorate says, North America, Australia, and southeast Asia are
preferred destinations for corrupted officials.
A recent survey of 42 corrupt officials conducted by an anti-graft research
group showed half of the corrupt officials who flee China to escape prosecution
are heads of SOEs.