China extradites first fugitive from Latin America

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China has extradited its first criminal suspect from Latin America following eight years of negotiations, repatriating an alleged crude soybean oil smuggler from Peru who has been on the run for 18 years, the country's customs bureau said on Sunday. The General Administration of Customs said on its website that Huang Haiyong, evaded over 700 million yuan ($104.69 million) in taxes between 1996 to 1998 through selling 107,000 tonnes of smuggled crude soybean oil. Huang and his two associates fled to the United Sates in 1998 and Interpol issued a global arrest warrant for Huang in 2001 at the request of Chinese authorities, the customs bureau said. He was caught by Interpol in Peru in 2008 and the two countries began negotiating his repatriation, but Huang appealed against returning to China citing the death penalty and risk of torture, it said. Photos published on the custom bureau website and state media show Huang being escorted by anti-smuggling police and being read his litigation rights. Reuters was unable to reach Huang for comment. "This case again reflects the customs bureau's attitude to fugitives, to 'chase them until the end', to crackdown on any determination to smuggle. No matter where suspects flee to, they will be severely punished by law," it said. China has brought home more than 600 officials in a campaign dubbed "Operation Fox Hunt", pursuing them abroad as part of a wider crackdown on deep-rooted graft. It has been pushing for extradition treaties with various countries but western countries have been reluctant to help, not wanting to send people to a country where rights groups say mistreatment of suspects is a concern. (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Michael Perry)