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Chinese cops capture North Korean jail breaker

Zhu was convicted of illegal entry into China, larceny and robbery.

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Zhu Xianjian, 39, has been recaptured after more than 40 days on the run from a prison in Jilin City. Credit: Handout

BEIJING (AFP) — Chinese police have captured a North Korean prisoner who staged a daring escape from jail in October and had been on the run for more than 40 days, authorities said Sunday.

Officials in northeast China were offering a $23,000 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 on Monday by scaling a shed and vaulting the outer wall on 18 October, and managed to stay at large before being captured Sunday.

A one-line statement from Jilin police said he had been reprimanded at about 10 a.m. Sunday morning, 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 the North 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 police.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) 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 HRW.

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