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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
Canada delays Chinese deportation
File photograph of Lai Changxing in September 2001
Lai Changxing say he fears torture if he returns to China
A Canadian court has delayed the deportation of one of China's most wanted men until he has exhausted a fight with immigration authorities.

Lai Changxing, wanted for tax evasion, says he faces torture or execution if he returns to China.

Justice Carolyn Layden-Stevenson says Mr Lai should be allowed to remain in Canada until his claim that he faces mistreatment has been dealt with.

China accuses Mr Lai of running a huge smuggling operation in the 1990s.

They say he dealt in goods including cigarettes, cars, heating and cooking oil, textiles, chemicals and other goods.

For five years, China has been trying to have him returned from Canada to face trial. Mr Lai fled there in 1999 with his wife and three children and claimed asylum.

House arrest

Since his arrest in 2000, Mr Lai has been fighting to stay in Canada as a refugee.

Mr Lai was originally due to be deported on 26 May but had won an appeal hearing by the Federal Court in Ottawa. He remains under house arrest in Vancouver, on Canada's Pacific coast.

Ms Layden-Stevenson agreed with defence lawyers that there was no assurance Mr Lai would not suffer torture if he was extradited back to China.

"The issue of the assurances lies at the heart of the debate," she wrote.

"Removal at this time would cause Mr Lai to face the risk that he alleges is present and that he argues is present and that he argues has not been adequately assessed by (immigration officials)."

She also wrote Mr Lai had not been convicted of any criminal offence, was not claiming welfare and was not a danger to the public or a security risk.

Esta Resnick, a lawyer for Canada's federal immigration, argued before the court it was "a case of a common criminal fugitive from justice, nothing more".


SEE ALSO:
Chinese fugitive is denied asylum
15 Apr 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China fugitive denied Canada asylum
21 Jun 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Smuggling suspect faces deportation
04 Jul 01 |  Asia-Pacific
China fugitive wants 'luxury jail'
26 Jan 01 |  Asia-Pacific


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