24 Jul 2011

Fugitive arrested on return to China

6:07 am on 24 July 2011

China's most wanted fugitive has been arrested in Beijing after being deported from Canada where he had lived in exile for 12 years.

Lai Changxing, 52, is accused of running a $US10 billion smuggling operation in the 1990s, in one of China's biggest political scandals in decades.

Mr Lai fled to Canada with his family in 1999 and claimed refugee status, saying the accusations against him were politically motivated. However, he was denied asylum.

Beijing had been seeking his deportation for years.

The BBC reports China has reassured Canada he will not face the death penalty if convicted.

Canada, which does not practise capital punishment, forbids the extradition of prisoners to countries where they may be executed.

Mr Lai was escorted by Canadian police on the civilian flight from Vancouver and handed over to Chinese police upon his arrival in Beijing.

State television showed him being read his rights by a police officer before being taken into custody.