VANCOUVER, British Columbia, July 22 (UPI) -- A Chinese fugitive who spent 11 years in Canada will be deported to his homeland to face charges of corruption and smuggling, officials said.
A federal court refused to stay deportation orders for Lai Changxing, whose attorney said could be executed if forced to return to China, the Toronto Star reported Friday.
Lai could be deported as soon as Friday. Federal Judge Michel Shore said the court was given assurances by China that Lai would be treated fairly.
Lai arrived in Canada in 1999 and filed for refugee status. That was denied and he has filed several appeals since. Last week after another appeal was denied, Canadian Border Services Agency officers arrested and detained him for the latest hearing.
Lai said sending him back to China is a death sentence. Seventeen of Lai's Chinese business associates were reportedly executed for participating in what China alleges was a $10 billion smuggling operation run from a seven-story "pleasure palace."
"The life of the applicant is in the Chinese government's hands," Shore wrote in his order. "The assurances are present. A new contractual government-to-government climate has been created by the assurances … the future, yet to be seen by both countries and others, will stand as witness to the outcome."
Lai's lawyer said Thursday in a last-ditch effort to delay deportation that China can't be trusted to keep its word.
"This effort to get at Mr. Lai is a political campaign by the government of China to show it is fighting corruption," said David Matas, Lai's lawyer. "If you actually read the assurances they don't amount to anything."