Canada to Extradite China’s Most Wanted Fugitive

Posted July 21st, 2011 at 11:35 pm (UTC-5)
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A Canadian court cleared the way late Thursday for China's most wanted fugitive to be extradited to face criminal charges.

Officials say fugitive Lai Changxing could be sent back to China as early as Sunday. It is unclear whether his lawyer plans to appeal.

China's foreign ministry issued a statement Friday, saying the government welcomed the decision.

Lai is wanted in China for allegedly orchestrating a multi-billion-dollar smuggling operation in southern China in the late 1990s. He has been fighting extradition to China for more than a decade.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird told reporters in China Monday that he discussed Lai's case with Chinese officials. He said that Canadian and Chinese people “don't have a lot of time for white collar fraudsters”.

Lai fled to Canada in 1999 with his wife and children. He says the charges against him are politically motivated, and he faces the death penalty in China.

But Baird said Beijing has offered assurances that white-collar crime is no longer punishable by death in China. Canada does not have a death penalty and will not extradite people who face possible execution.