Telecoms fraud

45 to go on trial in China

The Taiwanese suspects were deported from Kenya this month

BEIJING • China will try the 45 Taiwanese telecoms fraud suspects who were deported by Kenya this month.

This was disclosed by Chinese officials during a meeting with their Taiwanese counterparts in Beijing, state media reported.

China is battling an explosion of telecoms fraud that has cost billions of dollars in financial losses and driven some victims to suicide, say the authorities in Beijing, who blame the scams on criminal gangs based in Taiwan.

Kenya does not have official relations with democratic Taiwan and considers it to be part of "one China", in line with the position of Communist Party leaders in Beijing, who regard Taiwan as a wayward province.

Kenya said it deported the group back to where it came from. The move has angered self-ruled Taiwan, which accused China of effectively kidnapping its citizens. China, in reply, said it was simply going after criminals.

An official of China's Ministry of Public Security repeated that statement to the Taiwanese delegation, state news agency Xinhua said late on Thursday.

China is battling an explosion of telecoms fraud that has cost billions of dollars in financial losses and driven some victims to suicide, say authorities in Beijing, who blame the scams on criminal gangs based in Taiwan.

"The suspects specifically targeted people on the Chinese mainland and their victims are from the mainland. Not to mention that many of the suspects are themselves from the mainland," said the official, Mr Chen Shiqu.

"They will thus be investigated, prosecuted and tried in accordance with mainland law," he added.

All the suspects have already admitted their guilt, he said.

"Mainland police will spare no efforts in dealing with telecoms fraud syndicates, and we expect authorities in Taiwan will do the same and offer support to the mainland in returning their illicit gains," he added.

Taiwan's Ministry of Justice, in a statement on Thursday, said the delegation had visited the suspects in a Beijing detention centre and they seemed to be in good health, with two of them having appointed lawyers already.

It added the two sides had agreed to establish principles to fight crime together to ensure criminals were brought to justice and victims protected. Details, such as when the suspects would be able to return to the island, would be worked out in negotiations, the Justice Ministry said.

Over the weekend, China slammed Taiwan for freeing 20 Taiwanese suspects deported to the island from Malaysia. They were involved in a separate telecoms fraud case linked to China.

But on Thursday Taiwan's prosecutors changed their position and took most of the suspects into custody.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline '45 to go on trial in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe