Chinese smuggling king Lai gets life in jail: Xinhua

A Chinese court Friday handed a sentence of life in jail to the boss of a huge smuggling and bribery scam who was at the centre of a lengthy deportation battle with Canada, state media said.

Lai Changxing, 53, received the sentence at a court in southeast China's Xiamen, the city from which he directed his sprawling criminal empire before fleeing the country, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The sentence was the maximum available to the Xiamen Intermediate People's Court after China, in order to secure Lai's extradition, issued an unusual promise to the Canadian government not to execute him.

At least 14 death sentences were meted out to less important figures in the case when trials were held over a decade ago, bringing down national-level military and police officials and a swarm of local functionaries.

The case, one of the largest graft scandals in communist China's 62-year history, exposed a tight relationship between officials and entrepreneurs in the free-wheeling port city of Xiamen.

As the case unravelled in the late 1990s, Lai managed to escape to Canada, but was deported back to China in July last year after a 12-year battle against repatriation.

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