11 August 2009

China fugitive fears death if not given Canadian visa

Lawyer David Matas for China’s most wanted man says that his admission of guilt to smuggling will not end his decade-long bid to stay in Canada.

Canadian work permit

A Chinese businessman has been granted a Canadian work permit while his asylum case proceeds through court.

Mr Matas said that Lai Changxing’s fight to stay in Canada was based on a fear of torture and possible execution in China.

Mr Lai, who fled to Canada in 1999, has been described in Chinese news reports as the country’s No.1 fugitive.

The Chinese authorities accuse him of masterminding a network that smuggled goods worth as much as $10 billion, under the protection of corrupt government officials. Eight others implicated in the smuggling have already been executed, and several people have been jailed for sending funds to help Mr Lai to pay for his defense.
His former wife, Tsang Mingna, had returned to China with their eldest daughter, a deal Mr Matas said that Ms Tsang had made to return to China in exchange for all charges against her being dropped.

Mr Matas said that approach by China could be an effort to convince Mr Lai that he will receive lenient treatment should he return.

China has given assurances that Mr Lai will not face execution if he returns, but Mr. Matas said the assurances could not be believed.

Mr. Lai, his former wife, and their three children applied for asylum after arriving in Canada.

They said that the refugee board that turned down their asylum requests in 2002 failed to see that they were at risk of political persecution in China.

The asylum case has proceeded through court challenges and appeals since then. Meanwhile, Mr. Lai was granted a Canadian work permit in February, and he reportedly works in real estate.

Mr. Matas said Mr. Lai was still awaiting a decision by Canadian immigration officials on whether to evaluate the risk he might face if sent back to China.


The Canadian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with Canadian visas and immigration.

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