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'Smuggler Lai can't escape law punishment'
Updated: 2006-03-04 15:13

Lai Changxing, the leading suspect in China's most notorious smuggling case involving 10 billion U.S. dollars worth of smuggled goods now at large in Canada, will sure be extradited to China and receive punishment according to Chinese law, a senior political advisor has said.

"I'm optimistic about the final extradition of Lai," said Zhu Entao, former assistant to China's minister of public security and a member of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top advisory body which is in a 10-day annual full session here.

Lai, whose political asylum application has been rejected by the Canadian authorities, is likely to be sent back to China after the Canadian side completes the final pre-deportation procedures of risk appraisal, said Zhu, also honorary vice-chairman of Interpol.

"The procedures might end in three to five months," Zhu was quoted as saying by the Beijing News newspaper.

Lai was accused of being the mastermind of a criminal ring which had conducted, in collaboration with corrupt officials, the biggest smuggling operation uncovered in China since 1949. Lai fled to Canada with his family in 1999.

According to Zhu, China has made substantial progress over the past few years in judicial cooperation with foreign countries in apprehending and extraditing the country's corrupt officials on the run.

The Chinese police are now negotiating with their Dutch counterparts on the extradition of Yang Xiuzhu, a former official in east China's booming coastal province of Zhejiang charged with taking huge sums of bribes. Yang, former deputy director of the Zhejiang Provincial Construction Department, fled to the United States after her case was exposed, and was arrested by the Dutch police when she visited the Netherlands in May, 2005.

"Yang will sure be extradited," said Zhu.

Two years ago, Yu Zhendong, a corrupt banker in the southern province of Guangdong accused of stealing huge amount of public money before fleeing to the United States, was brought back to China, setting an example of sound China-U.S. judicial cooperation.

In the latest development, the U.S. Justice Department last month launched an indictment against two former Chinese bank managers allegedly to have transferred embezzled fund or done business with it abroad and forged passports and visas.

The move of the U.S. side has won wide applause from among Chinese officials and law experts, who consider it a warning to more than 4,000 corrupt Chinese officials on the run abroad.

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