China Gives Life in Prison to Fugitive Smuggler

Posted May 18th, 2012 at 5:45 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The man once considered China's most wanted fugitive has been sentenced to life in prison for smuggling and bribery, bringing an end to one of the country's biggest political corruption scandals.

The official Xinhua news agency said Lai Changxing was found guilty and convicted Friday in the southeastern city of Xiamen, from where he had run his extensive smuggling ring for years before fleeing the country.

The court found that, from 1991, Lai smuggled luxury cars, cigarettes and other items worth a total of $4.3 billion, while paying off dozens of officials to look the other way.

Lai fled to Canada in 1999 as authorities unleashed a broad corruption investigation that brought down several senior military officers and police officials.

He was extradited from Canada last year following assurances from China that he would not be tortured or executed.

The case tested relations between China and Canada, which does not have a death penalty and will not extradite people who face possible execution.

Death sentences have already been given to several less important figures in the wide-ranging investigation.

Xinhua said Lai was given life in prison because of the graveness of his offenses and the large amount of money smuggled. It also said he received a separate 15-year prison sentence for bribery, in addition to having his personal assets confiscated.