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Australian Current Affairs

Chinese student allowed to stay in Australia after six year sentence for drug trafficking


Australian Crime Commission

Australian Crime Commission

A former Chinese student who served six years in prison for his part in a drug-trafficking and money-laundering syndicate can stay in Australia after a tribunal overturned his visa cancellation.

If sent back to China, Xin Liang might face the death penalty; his risk of reoffending in Australia was very low; and he had been a model prisoner, said Administrative Appeals Tribunal deputy president Stephanie Forgie in a ruling this month.

After gambling at Crown casino in 2006, Liang was introduced to a Cantonese syndicate boss, known as Big Brother, and became involved in trafficking heroin, ice and cocaine, as well as handling $4 million in a money-laundering operation that was uncovered by the Australian Crime Commission.

Liang never revealed the identity of Big Brother, saying he feared for his family in China.

Last night, a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor said he was getting departmental advice “on his options in this case”.

At the weekend, the Coalition said it would legislate so that “foreign criminals” found guilty of serious offences would have their visas automatically cancelled.

Mr O’Connor said he already had enough power, and this financial year the visas of 97 “non-citizen” criminals had been cancelled. Liang arrived in 2000 at 18 years of age on a student visa, finished school, enrolled in international trade at RMIT University, and switched to a cookery college but could not find work.

He borrowed to buy a beauty therapy business, could not make it work, went to Crown “to try to make some money,” and naively fell in with Big Brother, Ms Forgie said in her AAT decision.

At one point, he went to China to set up a regular supply of drugs, and there were cases in which China had prosecuted returning citizens for activities that took place on Chinese soil, she said.

It emerged in Liang’s case that the extradition treaty signed by Australia and China in 2007 was not yet in force.

Mr O’Connor’s department had cited this treaty to suggest Liang would be less likely to be exposed to double jeopardy if sent back to China, said one of Liang’s barristers, Christopher Piesse.

Mr Piesse said the lack of a live treaty, and Liang’s success before the AAT, were unlikely to lead to a “floodgate” of similar challenges because few would be able to match Liang’s rehabilitation. Liang had a job and the support of an adoptive family in Melbourne.

Source: The Australian – Tribunal reverses drug-trafficker’s visa cancellation
 
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