VANCOUVER, British Columbia - A Canadian judge gave Lai Changxing, a
smuggling kingpin, another chance on Thursday to fight deportation from Canada
to face charges of running a smuggling empire.
Smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing, one of China's most wanted
fugitives, gestures while talking to media outside his residence in
Vancouver, British Columbia June 1,
The Canadian official who approved Lai's removal order failed to properly
consider Lai's claim that he would be tortured, a Federal Court judge ruled.
Lai's bid for political asylum in Canada already has been rejected.
The slow pace of Lai's deportation case -- which has gone on for seven years
-- has become a thorn in Chinese-Canadian relations even though Ottawa has
supported Beijing's efforts to have him returned.
The Canadian government can appeal this decision. If it doesn't officials
would have to repeat their review of the risks Lai faces. Lai's attorney David
Matas said that could stretch the process out for another two years before it is
China has made it clear that Lai will not be tortured or
executed, but the judge said the official who approved Lai's removal failed to
determine if the assurances on torture were "meaningful and reliable".
relaxed-looking Lai, who is living under limited house arrest in Vancouver, told
a news conference he was pleased by the decision, but would accept whatever
decision the Canadian courts finally make.
Canada, which does not have capital punishment, normally refuses to extradite
people to countries where they could face the death penalty.
Lai is accused of running a multibillion-dollar operation that bribed
officials and police to avoid taxes and duties on goods ranging from oil to
cigarettes that were smuggled into China's Fujian province in the 1990s.
Lai has denied wrongdoing and has said the allegations are politically
motivated, a claim Canadian immigration officials dismissed in rejecting his
Lai, who grew up in a peasant family, said if allowed to stay in Canada he
would turn to farming. "He says being a farmer is the safest," a translator told