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Chinese fugitive millionaire appeals sentence

31 january 2012, 12:47
Zeng Hanlin. ©AFP
Zeng Hanlin. ©AFP
A Chinese millionaire who fled to Canada and was jailed for fraud after he was deported back to China has lodged an appeal against the sentence, AFP reports citing his son and lawyer.

Zeng Hanlin, 66, fled in 2004 to escape the charges but was deported in March last year after Canadian authorities dismissed concerns he would be tortured or executed if he returned to China.

He was tried and convicted of fraud in November over a stock scheme linked to a failed business merger and a court in the southwestern city of Chengdu earlier this month sentenced Zeng to 15 years in prison.

"We sent the appeal to the Supreme Court in Chengdu," Zeng's son, Sam, told AFP.

"We are appealing the original decision and we would like a retrial."

Zeng's lawyer, Yang Zhaodong, told AFP the appeal was lodged last week but he had not yet received confirmation from the court, which was closed for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

AFP calls to the court on Monday went unanswered.

Canada, which does not practise capital punishment, bans the return of prisoners to countries where they might face the death penalty. But it has recently deported several people wanted by China.

Last year, Canada deported alleged Chinese smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing after a 12-year legal battle when Beijing issued an unusual promise not to execute him if he was found guilty.

Sam Zeng said his father was "innocent" of the charges and he wanted the case heard in an open court in Beijing to ensure a fair trial.

"We don't want the Chengdu court because we will not have a fair trial -- we want to change the hearing place to Beijing," he said, noting journalists had been barred from the original trial and crucial evidence rejected.

Sam Zeng said the family would hold a news conference in Toronto next week ahead of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's visit to China.

He wants Harper, who arrives in Beijing next Monday, to raise his father's case during talks with Chinese leaders.

"Everyone knows he is innocent. How can they do this?" he said, adding his father suffers heart problems and diabetes.

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