THE Spanish national court has granted China’s request to extradite 121 Taiwanese conmen.
It comes after 269 people were arrested in connection with an elaborate telephone scam that swindled working class people in China out of an estimated €16 million.
The gang had offices in Madrid, Barcelona and Alicante, and the racket involved members posing as friends or family, warning victims about fraudulent schemes.
In subsequent calls they pretended to be police or judicial officials, convincing thousands to deposit cash in their bank accounts.
One young man is reported to have committed suicide after handing over money he had saved for his studies.
In the wake of the arrests a number of gang members told investigators they had come to Spain thinking they would be employed as tour guides.
There was a diplomatic element to court proceedings, with the defendants’ lawyers arguing that they should not be extradited due to the ongoing dispute over Taiwan, which split from China in 1949 and remains under self-rule.
But China claims sovereignty over the island, and the Madrid court noted that Taiwan has had no diplomatic relations with the European Union since 1978.
“The international community, except for those countries with which (Taiwan) has diplomatic relations, consider Taiwan to be part of China and take the view that its independence cannot be achieved unilaterally,” said the written ruling.