Canada says has access to China's most wanted man

Wed Feb 8, 2012 8:53am EST
 
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By David Ljunggren

BEIJING (Reuters) - Canadian diplomats have had regular access to China's most wanted man, who was deported from Canada to China last year after a decades-long legal battle to face smuggling charges, an official told Reuters on Wednesday.

Beijing had sought the deportation of Lai Changxing for years, accusing him of running a multi-billion dollar smuggling ring in the southeastern city of Xiamen in the 1990s in one of China's biggest political scandals in recent times.

The Canadian official dismissed suggestions that China had barred visits to Lai, about whom little has been heard since he arrived back in China in July after he lost a legal battle lasting almost two decades.

"Diplomats have had regular consular access to Lai," the government official said, declining to comment any further.

Chinese state media said last December that Lai would be handed over to prosecutors.

The official spoke to Reuters after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he had raised the question of human rights in a meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Beijing on Wednesday.

Lai may face life imprisonment, state media has reported. But some legal experts and human rights activists have said it is unlikely Lai will receive a fair trial in China.

Lai fled to Canada with his family in 1999 and claimed refugee status, saying the allegations against him were politically motivated.   Continued...