GUANGZHOU: Had the municipal procuratorate of Meizhou, Guangdong province, done its job properly, Shi Yuqing, a local people's congress deputy, accused of embezzling more than 30 million yuan ($4.3 million), would have faced justice.
Instead, the suspect has been on the run for months, and his whereabouts are unknown.
The local police, who wanted to arrest the deputy immediately after verifying the massive misappropriation of funds, can now do precious little but put Shi's name on its "wanted" list.
The board chairman of a private real estate firm in Xingning, under the administration of Meizhou, where the accused was the general manager, filed a complaint against Shi with the public security department of Guangdong in May 2008 for having embezzled corporate funds worth over 30 million yuan ($4.3 million) between 1999 and 2007, news portal www.southcn.com reported yesterday.
Shi allegedly conspired with the firm's teller and withdrew the whopping sum gradually over the course of eight years.
The company is now on the verge of bankruptcy.
The municipal public security bureau of Meizhou, after investigating the allegations, wanted to place Shi under arrest in February this year.
But the city's municipal procuratorate said the accused was a deputy to the local people's congress and "did not have any intentions of escaping" the law.
The procuratorate was wrong. Shi went missing just days later, before the provincial procuratorate and the provincial public department could intervene with "immediate arrest" orders.
"The Meizhou procuratorate has goofed, leaving no room for excuses," said Wang Yunsong, a lawyer with the Guangdong Guozheng Law Firm.
"A deputy to the people's congress does not have immunity from legal penalties," he said.
"However, there should be an easier way for the local police to get permission from the standing committee or presidium of the people's congress to arrest such deputies."
Wang added that the country's judicial integrity will be harmed if government departments continue leaving room for suspected criminals to escape the law.
Qin Shubin, a Guangzhou resident, is almost certain the local procuratorate is hand-in-glove with the suspect.
"I don't think the local procurators are so blind and ignorant," he said. "I'm quite sure the some officials deliberately delayed Shi's arrest to buy him time to escape."
He said the procuratorate's role in Shi's escape "should be investigated".