France-based people-smuggler's life termappeal rejected in China

24th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

BEIJING, Aug 24 (AFP) - A France-based people-smuggler convicted of spiriting 541 Chinese to richer countries has had an appeal against his life sentence thrown out, state media said Tuesday.

BEIJING, Aug 24 (AFP) - A France-based people-smuggler convicted of spiriting 541 Chinese to richer countries has had an appeal against his life sentence thrown out, state media said Tuesday.

Chinese-born Li Zhongxun, a post-doctoral fellow who has lived in Paris since 1986, was sentenced last April in the eastern province of Zhejiang and had his appeal thrown out there on Monday, the Xinhua news agency said.

Li set up a seemingly innocent company, the Sino-French Company for Educational, Social, Economic and Cultural Exchanges, in 1999 to help Chinese students study in France and organised overseas summer camp activities for Chinese pupils, Xinhua said.

But in July 2000, Li and six accomplices undertook their first operation - sending 21 student stowaways to France, and continued their business for two years before being caught.

The gang smuggled a total of 541 people abroad, 298 of whom escaped from customs inspection and remain overseas.

All the emigrants ended up in western Europe, typically paying EUR 100,000 (USD 120,000) for their passage, the agency had reported earlier.

The gang earned a total of EUR 940,000 (USD 1.1 million) and CNY 30 million (USD 3.6 million), according to Xinhua.

The report did not say how the emigrants were smuggled.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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