Australia, China Nearing Agreement on Prisoner Exchange Treaty

Posted June 15th, 2011 at 1:00 am (UTC-5)
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A new prisoner exchange treaty between Australia and China could allow mining executive Stern Hu and dozens of other Australians imprisoned in China to serve out their sentences at home.

The Chinese-born Hu, an executive at Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, was sentenced last year for stealing commercial secrets and accepting bribes. A total of 25 Australians are imprisoned in China, while 16 more are awaiting trial or sentencing.

Under the exchange treaty, prisoners being held in either country will be able to apply for repatriation to their native country once all legal proceedings are complete.

A spokeswoman for Australian Justice Minister Brendan O'Connor says the prisoners must obtain the consent of both governments, plus the government of the state and territory where they want to serve their sentence.

The treaty will soon be submitted to the Australian parliament for ratification.