The District Court of Larnaca in Cyprus, by the decision of judge Malvinas Nathanael, will not extradite a Chinese businessman as his human rights could be violated by Beijing's authorities. The decision is considered particularly important due to the political and diplomatic implications.
During the judicial process, the crude intervention of the Chinese embassy was recorded, as well as the activity of Chinese secret services on Cypriot territory, which threatened the wanted person and his family. In fact, the threats were largely realised.
Also of interest is the zeal with which the Cypriot authorities promoted the demands of the Chinese institutions, who requested the extradition of their nationals for economic cases, which, of course, were not examined on the merits by the Cypriot court as that is not its role.
The wanted person denies his guilt and was released without any conditions as he has applied for political asylum in Cyprus. The Chinese citizen was represented by lawyer A. Pelekanos.
When China began looking for M.C., as the asylum is referred to as, and found that he had left the country, a Chinese police officer sought information on his communications. He managed to track him down and threatened him with the arrest of his mother if he did not pay a certain amount of money.
As he testified in court, until March 2020, he was sending money to the Chinese police officer to protect his mother. When he stopped sending money, an international arrest warrant was issued against him.
On the basis of this warrant, he was arrested at Larnaca airport in Cyprus in February 2021 and the process of his extradition to China began.
In October 2021, while the court proceedings were ongoing in the Larnaca court, some Chinese approached his partner outside the court and threatened her and demanded that she stop helping him and convince him to return to China voluntarily.
In fact, they gave her a three-month ultimatum. The Cypriot Attorney General George Savvidis was informed about the incident through the lawyer A. Pelekanos.
His parents disappeared
As soon as the three-month ultimatum expired, in China, the arrests of the couple's relatives began, while MC..'s partner never went to court with him again and went into hiding. Specifically, on 1/28/22, the sister and son-in-law of M.C.'s wife were arrested.
On 2/25/22, M.C.'s parents disappeared. and it became known that the father was arrested by the Chinese Police but no one knows where his mother is.
On 5/06/22, the Cypriot Police went to M.C.'s house in Limassol with an arrest warrant against his wife based on an international warrant issued by China.
It should be noted that since 2019, when the investigation into the alleged fraud involving M.C. began in China, there has never been any association with any members of his family.
This only happened when the three-month ultimatum given to his wife by the Chinese (intelligence agents) expired. After all this M.C. applied for asylum in Cyprus, as his life is in immediate danger from the Chinese authorities.
M.C. was illegally arrested in China in 2014 because he was a guarantor on a loan, which the borrower did not repay. As he described, he was put in a room and asked to sign that he would repay the full amount.
They placed him in a metal chair, tying his hands and feet so that he could not move, and then shone bright spotlights on his face.
They then handcuffed his arm to a metal bar and left him standing for hours, even forcing him to urinate where he stood. After all this he was forced to sign that he would repay the entire loan with interest and costs to the police.
Only then was he allowed to contact his family.
He was "tried" by the embassy
As noted in the court's decision, the public statements of the Chinese embassy in Nicosia last May at least raise concerns about the course the case would take if M.C. were extradited to his country. The statements contradict Beijing's assurances that M.C. would receive a fair trial.
It is pointed out that the statements of the Chinese embassy in Nicosia are a sample of what awaited M.C. if he were extradited to China, while they also violate the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Chinese embassy effectively intervened in the judicial process in Cyprus by characterising M.C. as a "criminal" and claimed that he "ignored the facts of his crimes, proven by incontrovertible evidence and therefore used - (he and his lawyer) some so-called excuses - the political system, human rights, religion and other issues not related to the case" in order to "confuse the public."
It is worth noting that the Chinese embassy called M.C. a "criminal" when he is not even supposedly charged and is "only" wanted for questioning.
The court did not fail to note that the Chinese embassy in its public statements last May characterised the case as "extremely egregious in nature, having a far-reaching impact and causing intense anger in Chinese society."
These statements confirm that the case has become "politically sensitive" and as mentioned in the decision, the statements of the Chinese embassy "implies that the fate of the wanted person has already been decided in his country or will be led in only one direction.
No one is spared
It is noteworthy that whoever is considered suspicious by the Chinese authorities is also guilty. This is demonstrated by the conviction rates, according to data covering the period 2013-2020. Figures show that of the people brought before Chinese courts, 99.95% were convicted.
Simply put, it is completely unlikely that someone will be tried and acquitted.
Of course, many convictions occur without a substantive trial, since during the pre-trial stage the Chinese authorities can detain someone for 37 days without allowing him access to a lawyer and, according to the testimony of international organisations, subject him to incredible torture until he confesses his guilt.
Most importantly, you don't even need a warrant to arrest or detain since that is decided by the prosecutor and the police,
The "opium of the people"
Communist regimes, like that of China, true to Marx's saying that "religion is the opium of the people", have carried out and are carrying out incredible atrocities against religious people and especially those who believe in doctrines which the party considers a threat.
M.C. belongs to a religious sect called Falun Gong (FLG) and the Chinese authorities have used every means to persecute those who follow it. Followers of this doctrine are usually at risk of "enforced disappearance" as they are illegally arrested by the Chinese authorities and no one knows their fate.
The situation had alarmed the UN but China since 2006 has not allowed the UN UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to enter the country to investigate the issue.
The Beijing Communist regime, had set up detention centres similar to the "gulags" in the Soviet Union.
These centres were called "legitimate education centers" to hold those deemed to be a threat due to "religious extremism." These centres no longer exist but international organisations document the illegal detention of FLG loyalists for long periods of time without trial and without access to lawyers.
As mentioned FLG until 1999 was roughly legal and believers gathered in parks, squares and schools. It is a form of meditation practice with movements. It consists of five different exercises and each one lasts 20 minutes.
During the exercise, a specific sound background is used which is used internationally by the faithful of FLG.
They remove prisoners' organs
In the decision of the provincial judge of Larnaca, Malvinas Nathanael, extensive reference is made to reports of international organisations on the tragic situation of human rights in China.
The recent decision of the ECHR concerning the request to extradite a Chinese citizen from Poland to China was also considered. Reference was also made to a European Parliament resolution on the human rights situation in China on May 22, 2022.
The resolution states, among other things, that: since Xi Jinping took power in March 2013, the situation of human rights in China is becoming increasingly hostile.
The European Parliament also expressed concern over allegations of persistent, systematic, inhumane and state-sanctioned organ harvesting from prisoners in the People's Republic of China, particularly from people who practice Falun Gong (FLG) and other minorities such as Uyghurs and Tibetans.
The European Parliament called on the UN Human Rights Committee to examine the issue of forced organ removal as a matter of priority.
Justice is the party!
The Chinese expert who was presented as a witness by the Legal Service of Cyprus to support the request for extradition, stated among other things that in his country, "Politically sensitive cases may be decided by or may give an opinion on the outcome of, the judicial commissions known in the country, which are not the adjudicating 'natural court' that tried the case and which are supervised by the Communist Party".
Also recorded was the position of the president of the Supreme Court of China at the 19th Congress of the Communist Party that he is committed to "faithfully adhering to the absolute leadership of the CCP on judicial work and preventing the influence of 'wrong Western thinking' and notions of 'separation of powers' and 'independence of the judiciary'."
The testimony showed that "China's judiciary, procurator, and public security agencies are supervised and coordinated by the Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which provides guidance on handling cases with legal precedent so that, in cases where the issues concern 'maintaining the state of stability' in the country, there is sympathy with the wishes of the party leadership."
Free without conditions
The Cypriot court, after rejecting China's request for M.C.'s extradition, ordered that he be released without restrictive conditions and that the Ministry of Justice and Public Order of Cyprus be immediately informed, which duly forwarded the request of the Chinese authorities.
The Cypriot prosecution "spoke" Chinese
The "passion" of the representative of the Cyprus Legal Service to achieve M.C.'s extradition to China goes so far as to claim that his religious beliefs were used to create obstacles in the process. This raises many questions!
It is noteworthy that the Legal Service of Cyprus did not bother to present any independent testimony on how the political and legal system works in China.
Instead, they presented only a Chinese professor as an expert. However, the side of M.C. presented special independent experts, including award-winning academics of international prestige, who revealed the serious violations of every human right in China.
This decision, if not appealed to be overturned, is an important element that will affect the diplomatic relations between Cyprus and China, as the two countries signed in 2018 an updated convention on the mutual extradition of wanted persons.
At the European level, there is already intense concern about whether such agreements will continue to apply since China systematically violates the human rights of its citizens and does not keep the commitments it gives when it requests the extradition of one of its citizens.
In many cases, people extradited to China were executed despite promises of the contrary.
Manolis Kalatzis is a columnist for Proto Thema.
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