Hearings begin for China's former No. 1 fugitive

Published April 6, 2012 5:00AM (EDT)

BEIJING (AP) — The man who battled deportation from Canada for a decade after being accused of heading China's largest-ever smuggling ring has gone on trial.

State media reported Friday that a court in the southern coastal city of Xiamen began to hear the high-profile case nearly nine months after Lai Changxing was deported from Canada.

Lai is accused of masterminding a $10 billion network that smuggled everything from cigarettes to cars to oil and bribed dozens of government workers between 1996 and 1999. He fled China in 1999.

Lai was considered China's No. 1 fugitive during the 10 years he fought deportation from Canada. Beijing has assured Ottawa that Lai will not face the death penalty.

By Salon Staff

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