Spain deports two fraud suspects to China: ministry

TELECOM SCAMS::The two were among 219 Taiwanese suspects who were arrested in 2016 by Spanish authorities for defrauding Chinese

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, May 18, 2018 - Page 3

The Ministry of Justice yesterday condemned the Spanish government’s deportation of two Taiwanese fraud suspects to China, which it said curtails the fundamental rights of suspects.

The case dates back to December 2016, when Spanish authorities arrested 269 suspects, including 219 Taiwanese, who allegedly used telecom scams to defraud Chinese citizens of a total of 12 million euros (US$14.2 million at the current exchange rate).

Spanish media reports at the time said it was the largest joint operation between Chinese and Spanish law enforcement agencies, which raided the offices of telecom fraud rings in Barcelona, Madrid and Alicante.

The families of the Taiwanese suspects hired lawyers to represent them in Spain, hoping that they would be sent back to Taiwan.

However, the Spanish authorities, citing extradition requests by China, on Friday last week deported two of the 219 Taiwanese fraud suspects to China to face trial.

The Ministry of Justice said that together with other government agencies, including the nation’s representative office in Spain, it had offered legal and other forms of assistance to the suspects.

“However, we regret that the Spanish government did not respond and had denied an official request for extradition and joint investigation work by our nation’s judicial and law enforcement agencies,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We have notified the Spanish government about our concerns pertaining to human rights violations in China and its justice system, and asked that it handle the case with prudence,” the statement said.

Madrid’s deportation of the Taiwanese suspects to China contravened the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, it added.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Mainland Affairs Council also released statements protesting the move.

The foreign ministry expressed strong regret over the issue, while pledging to continue to provide assistance through the nation’s representative office in Spain to uphold the rights of Taiwanese and help the families of the suspects establish contact.

The council lodged a protest with the Chinese government, saying that the case has damaged trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and contravened provisions in the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議).

“It is our consistent stance that Taiwanese suspected of alleged criminal activities abroad be returned to Taiwan. The best way to crack down on telecom fraud operations and to catch the ringleaders is by undertaking mutual collaboration to gather and verify evidence during the judicial investigation process,” the council said.