New York court holds hearing in trial for fugitive ex-Chinese official
Updated: 2015-06-10 16:39
NEW YORK/BEIJING - The first hearing in the trial of China's most wanted economic fugitive Yang Xiuzhu took place in a New York immigration court on Tuesday.
Undated file photo of Yang Xiuzhu, the former deputy Mayor of Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province. Yang, China's most-wanted fugitive suspected of corruption, is in US custody and waiting for extradition. [Photo/xinhuanet.com]
The 30-minute hearing was held behind closed doors, but the former Chinese official could be seen sitting in the courtroom in an orange prison jumpsuit.
Yang's lawyer Vlad Kuzmin said she has applied for political asylum, but refused to reveal any other details.
After the hearing, Yang was taken back to the correctional facility in Hudson County, New Jersey.
Last month, a source of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirmed that Yang, who went into hiding after being sought after by anti-corruption investigators in China, has been detained in the United States.
The ICE accused Yang of "violating the terms of the Visa Waiver Program," and asked the immigration court to deport her to China.
"Xiuzhu Yang is in US Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody pending removal to China, for violating the terms of the Visa Waiver Program. As a foreign law enforcement fugitive, Yang is an ICE enforcement priority," Lou Martinez, spokesman of the ICE New York Field Office, has said in an statement.
Yang is one of the 100 Chinese nationals suspected of corruption who are believed to have fled abroad. She used to serve as vice mayor of Wenzhou, a coastal city in the eastern Zhejiang Province. When investigators started looking into her activities in 2003, she and her family fled China.
Investigators have found evidence that Yang had accepted 253 million yuan (about 41 million U.S. dollars at current price) in bribes. She was subject to an Interpol red notice.
China has released a list of 100 economic fugitives, all believed to have fled abroad, as part of the country's recent anti-corruption campaign.