More extradition treaties sought

By Xie Chuanjiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-09-26 07:28

With scores of corrupt officials fleeing to the United States, Canada and Australia, China needs to pace up negotiations with those countries to conclude extradition treaties, officials have said.

"Besides, a number of officials have fled to European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands," Gao Yuntao, deputy head of the international cooperation bureau of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), told China Daily.

The country has so far signed extradition agreements with 29 nations but only three - Spain, Portugal and France - are developed nations.

Though Beijing has promised that no extradited person will be executed, some countries are hesitant about signing pacts because there is a provision for the death penalty in the statute books.

This excuse has most strikingly been used in the case of alleged smuggling boss Lai Changxing, who is accused of masterminding a billion-dollar smuggling ring in Fujian Province before fleeing to Canada in 1999.

Gao and Ni Shouming, spokesman for the Supreme People's Court, reiterated that Lai would not be executed, emphasizing that it is a matter of international credibility.

Although some developed countries have not signed extradition treaties, suspected criminals have been sent back for a long time, such as the transfer from Japan in May of Yuan Tongshu, the former general manager of a State-owned enterprise in Liaoning Province.

Of all countries, the most progress in extradition treaty talks has been with Japan, Gao said.

Since 2000, China has managed to get more than 10 suspects back each year.

"The number of corrupt officials fleeing abroad has been gradually decreasing in recent years and will decline sharply with more international cooperation, especially with the implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)," Gao said.

China is a strong supporter of the UNCAC, which came into effect in the country last December.

Also, last year, the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities was founded in Beijing, with SPP Procuratorate General Jia Chunwang elected as president.

To date more than 100 anti-corruption organs and 800 individuals internationally have become members of the association.

"The organization is expected to be a key platform for us to make substantive progress in anti-corruption battles and to extradite more suspects," said SPP spokesman Tong Jianming.

Last week, Wang Liming, deputy head of the SPP anti-corruption bureau, said more than 200 corrupt officials accused of embezzling billions of yuan were at large abroad.

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