Chinese fugitive leaves Canada

July 23, 2011 at 9:50 PM

OTTAWA, July 23 (UPI) -- A Chinese fugitive who had been in Canada since the late 1990s has returned to China, officials say.

Lai Changxing, who boarded a plane to China Saturday, managed to stay in Canada for so long by claiming he would be tortured or executed by the Chinese government should he return, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Canadian Court Justice Michael Shore received "extraordinary assurances" from Chinese government officials that Lai, wanted for running a multibillion-dollar smuggling business, would not be harmed and would receive a legal defense.

"There's a real structural problem here in that we do not have an extradition arrangement with China, and we don't have a kind of protocol for managing white-collar crime," said Paul Evans, director of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia.

Lai's defense attorney in Canada, David Matas, criticized Shore's decision, calling it inconsistent, unpersuasive and wrong.

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