Chinese police capture North Korean convict who was on the run for over 40 days

BEIJING (AFP) – The Chinese police have captured a North Korean prisoner who staged a daring escape from jail last month and had been on the run for more than forty days, the authorities said on Sunday (Nov 28).

Officials in north-east China were offering a US$23,000 (S$31,500) bounty for the recapture of the escapee, in a manhunt that has sparked massive interest on social media.

The 39-year-old prisoner, identified by the Chinese name Zhu Xianjian, was jailed in China after fleeing reclusive North Korea.

He escaped the facility in Jilin city by scaling a shed and vaulting the outer wall on Oct 18, and managed to stay at large before being captured on Sunday.

A one-line statement from Jilin police said he had been reprimanded at about 10am on Sunday, without giving more details.

Videos shared by state-run Beijing News showed an emaciated-looking man being carried by several officers, with a photograph of him then lying on the ground with his hands behind his back.

Zhu was convicted of illegal entry into China, larceny and robbery, and was due for release and deportation back to North Korea in 2023, prompting online speculation that he broke out to avoid being sent back.

He illegally crossed a river separating North Korea from China in 2013. He then raided several houses in a nearby village, stealing money, mobile phones and clothes, court records show.

He also stabbed an elderly woman who discovered him and tried to flee in a taxi before being arrested by the police.

Human Rights Watch said in a July report that at least 1,100 North Koreans are detained in China, Pyongyang’s main ally and economic benefactor.

Many face deportation back to their home country upon release, where they may suffer torture and other rights violations, according to the non-governmental organisation. 

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