Japan to extradite criminal suspect

By Le Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-05-10 06:55

The Tokyo High Court ruled on Tuesday that a Chinese man who has been accused of embezzlement in China and is now living in Japan be handed over to Beijing.

The 40-year-old former company president, currently residing in Osaka, is suspected of misappropriating 1 million yuan ($131,500) from a government-funded trading company in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

The extradition of the man, whose name was not revealed, will be the first since 1990 when a Chinese man was extradited after hijacking a Chinese passenger flight and forcing it to land at Fukuoka Airport.

China and Japan have not signed an extradition treaty but have agreed to hold consultations on inking such a pact to handle prisoner transfers and criminal repatriation.

The agreement was reached when Premier Wen Jiabao visited Japan last month and was included in a joint communiqu.

The two countries are also in substantive agreement on a treaty for cooperation in criminal investigations by the end this year, a goal confirmed by Wen and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe during their talks in Tokyo last month.

The treaty on criminal investigations for which negotiations are under way is aimed at enabling investigative authorities in the two countries to exchange information without going through diplomatic channels.

Experts say such treaties are necessary because the number of Chinese criminal suspects living in Japan has reportedly increased. But they pointed out it is vital for the two governments to assure appropriate enforcement of sentences, given the disparity in punishments for similar crimes in the two countries.

China has signed extradition treaties with more than 20 countries, including some Western nations such as Spain and France.

The basis for extradition cooperation lies in reciprocal trust in the legal systems, said Huang Feng, a professor of international law at Beijing Normal University.

Despite various barriers, China should also give priority to signing such treaties with other countries in a bid to crack down on criminals who flee abroad, Huang noted.

Around 800 economic crime suspects are reported to have fled to other countries with more than 70 billion yuan ($9.1 billion) involved in the cases. Most of them are from the financial sector or State-owned enterprises.

(China Daily 05/10/2007 page1)

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