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    Sichuan Police Convince Escaped Convict to Return From Myanmar

    After 26 years, fugitive robber said he longed to see China’s improved living standards.

    A convicted Chinese fugitive checked himself back into prison this week after 26 years on the run in Myanmar, citing his home country’s “earth-shattering change and development.”

    A police officer in southwestern China’s Sichuan province received a tip last month that an escaped criminal surnamed Chen had told an acquaintance that he was ready to come out of hiding but still had some misgivings. In September 1991, Chen had escaped from a prison near the provincial capital of Chengdu, where he was serving time for theft, Chengdu Business Daily reported Tuesday.

    Police managed to get hold of Chen’s telephone number and convinced him to return, explaining that there are leniency procedures for people who turn themselves in. On Friday, the 46-year-old walked into a police station in Gong County, Sichuan.

    “As if relieved from a great burden,” the report said, Chen voluntarily recounted his story of breaking out of prison and slipping across the border into a life in hiding. Apart from the promised leniency, Chen said he had decided to return home because China’s improved living standards had made him think twice about living out his life in Myanmar, according to the report.

    A Gong County police officer surnamed Nong told Sixth Tone that though Chen was sentenced to six years, he escaped after serving just over one. Upon turning himself in, Chen was sent to Yizhou Prison to serve the rest of his sentence, Nong said, adding that authorities have yet to determine whether he will be punished further.

    According to Chinese law, escaping from prison can be punished by additional time, depending on a range of circumstances, such as whether violence was used.

    In 2012, another fugitive prisoner turned himself in after 32 years on the run. In 1980, when he was 26, he faced 15 years behind bars following the death of a woman he had attempted to heal by having her drink a bottle of strong liquor mixed with ashes. The man had managed to escape by hiding in a pile of leaves when he was put to work in an apple orchard.

    Additional reporting: Wang Lianzhang; editor: Qian Jinghua.

    (Header image: An inmate looks out the window of his cell at a prison in Zhoukou, Henan province, Oct. 11, 2012. IC)