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DFAT warns early release of Matthew Ng could threaten China prisoner swap deal

Updated December 08, 2015 23:52:45

The Department of Foreign Affairs has warned the future of Australia’s prisoner swap deal with China could be jeopardised if the Lawyer-General, George Brandis, grants businessman Matthew Ng an early release from prison.

Mr Ng was arrested in Guangzhou in 2010 right after refusing to sell his $ one hundred million stake in the travel company, GZL, back to the Chinese government at expense price tag.

He was convicted of bribery and embezzlement a year later and sentenced to 11.five years’ jail.

In 2014, he became the initial Australian to advantage from a prisoner swap deal among Australia and China and is now serving out the rest of his sentence at the St Heliers Correction Centre in the NSW Hunter Valley.

Mr Ng has usually maintained his innocence, and since returning to Australia has pleaded for an early release from prison or a pardon.

In August, Mr Ng’s lawyers made a formal application for an early release, based on exceptional circumstances under the Crime Act such as his diagnosis with Post Traumatic Anxiety Disorder and a significant depressive disorder, the amount of time he has currently served in China and the disproportionate length of his sentence.

But yesterday the Attorney-General’s division wrote to Mr Ng’s lawyers rejecting the application, citing suggestions from both the NSW Wellness Department and Division of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

“DFAT advises that the Chinese authorities have produced clear they are closely monitoring the first successful transfer cases and will see them as test instances for future prisoner transfer amongst Australia and China,” the Lawyer-General’s department wrote.

“DFAT’s view is the granting of early release or pardon would very likely have a unfavorable impact on the operation of the [prisoner transfer] scheme and prejudice other existing or future circumstances.”

It is understood there are about 80 Australians imprisoned in China.

Ng suffered inhumane therapy in Chinese prison: lawyers

The Lawyer-General’s department also cast doubt on the severity of Mr Ng’s mental illness, saying he had not sought any assist for psychological situations at St Heliers and “appeared to be managing his mental wellness situations adequately”.

“Psychology advises … they are unlikely to help a request for early release primarily based on psychological well being grounds due to the commonality of described diagnoses and symptoms in the correctional setting,” the department wrote.

That is at odds with healthcare guidance obtained by Mr Ng’s lawyers which states the “specialist psychological therapy of the sort needed by Mr Ng is not obtainable in a correctional facility” and goes on to say Mr Ng demands therapy “as a matter of urgency”.

Mr Ng’s sentence expires in 2022, but he will be eligible for parole in August subsequent year.

His lawyers argue there are enough exceptional situations to release Mr Ng from prison early offered his inhumane remedy, and trauma suffered, during his 1,475 days in prison in China.

In their letter to the Attorney-Common, they said Mr Ng was held in a prison cell with 18 other folks and forced to share a bed with another inmate there were no flushing toilets or showers and he was physically assaulted on 3 occasions.

Mr Ng’s second marriage has also broken down lately and last year, whilst imprisoned in China, he was informed that his eldest daughter Isabella had died, causing him a wonderful deal of distress.

His lawyers have till January five to respond to the department’s letter.

Topics: crime, prisons-and-punishment, planet-politics, federal-government, australia, china

First posted December 08, 2015 23:48:04

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