Smuggler won't face execution
Updated: 2012-02-14 07:57
By Zhang Yan and Tan Zongyang (China Daily)
XIAMEN, Fujian - Legal expert said on Monday that Lai Changxing, who confessed to running one of the largest smuggling operations in the nation's history, will not face execution for his crimes.
The 53-year-old from Fujian province stands accused of running a multibillion-dollar smuggling group in the 1990s in Xiamen, a costal city of Fujian province, and paying bribes while serving as the chairman of Yuanhua Group in Xiamen.
The city court of Xiamen has taken on the case, according to the statement.
Lai and the other suspects have confessed.
"If charged with smuggling common goods and bribery, Lai will face the maximum jail term of life imprisonment rather than death penalty," Li Guifang, vice-director of the criminal defense committee under the All-China Lawyers Association, said on Monday.
If only accused of these two crimes, Lai surely will not face the death penalty, which also reflects Chinese judicial organs' desire to "fulfill its commitment to the Canadian side that no death penalty would be applied to Lai," Li said.
After the case was exposed, Lai immediately fled to Canada with his ex-wife, two sons and one daughter on tourist visas. Since then, he has used Canadian laws to apply for refugee protection to avoid punishment from Chinese judicial organs in one of the country's longest extradition cases.
In July, 2011, the federal court in Canada finally rejected Lai's appeal to suspend the repatriation order and decided to repatriate him to China to face trial, ending a 12-year battle by Chinese judicial authorities.
"The legal rights of Lai as well as other suspects and their lawyers have been protected, and prosecutors had an extensive exchange of ideas with them before filing the lawsuit," according to the statement.
The investigation concluded in late December, and Lai was handed over for prosecution.
"After investigating all the seized evidence and interrogating Lai, we confirmed the criminal facts were clear, and the evidence was solid, so we made the appropriate charges in line with the law," said the statement.
According to a previous statement from the local customs and anti-smuggling agency and the Xiamen prosecutor's office, the investigation showed that Lai had smuggled a large number of commodities, such as cigarettes, cars, petroleum, cooking oil, chemicals and equipment, through Xiamen Customs from 1996 to 1999.
Lai paid significant amounts of money in bribes to dozens of government officials and ordered his subordinates to do so.
"But considering the amount of money involved was huge and he bribed many officials many times, he is likely to face a jail term of life imprisonment," said Li from the lawyers association.
Xinhua contributed to this story.
(China Daily 02/14/2012 page4)