China / Society

Convict returned to S. Korea

By Zhang Yan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-29 07:37

A South Korean man convicted of smuggling goods and sentenced to six years in prison by a Chinese court has been transferred to his home country to serve his sentence, as he has a severe illness, the Ministry of Justice said on Thursday.

"This is the first case in which a Chinese judicial authority has transferred a foreign convict who is in community correction to his own country to serve a jail term," Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of the ministry's judicial assistance and foreign affairs department, told China Daily.

The transfer reflects the Chinese government's "respect for the human rights and other legitimate rights of a foreign convict and is willing to promote pragmatic cooperation between judicial organs in the two countries," he said.

The ministry said the 51-year-old prisoner, surnamed Kang, had been a senior manager in Beijing for a Korean freight forwarding company.

In 2011, Kang colluded with Sinotrans, a company in northern China, to smuggle auto parts overseas, with the amount of tax evasion reaching 2.4 million yuan ($387,000), the ministry said.

In 2012, Kang was convicted of smuggling and sentenced to six years imprisonment by Beijing No 2 Intermediate People's court, according to the ministry.

After being diagnosed with motor neuron muscular atrophy, in January 2013, he received approval to serve his sentence outside prison and take part in the community correction program in Shanghai.

In June, as his illness worsened, the South Korean embassy in China approached the ministry, which decided this month to send Kang back to South Korea, under the provisions of a bilateral judicial treaty.

A statement issued by the South Korean embassy in China said: "Although the judicial process is complicated, the Chinese government and judicial organs attached great importance to it and conducted the convict's transfer quickly."

To date, China has signed bilateral treaties covering the transfer of convicted people with 14 countries and regions, including Australia, Russia and Spain, and has handed over 60 foreign convicts, according to the ministry.

Li Wei, a member of the Beijing Lawyers Association, said Chinese judicial organs decided on this course to protect prisoners' legitimate rights.

"Returning to their homeland to serve their sentences will help them to return to society smoothly," he said.

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