Ambassador steps in to help jailed Australian in China | Connect Asia

Ambassador steps in to help jailed Australian in China

Ambassador steps in to help jailed Australian in China

Updated 26 November 2012, 16:05 AEDT

The family of an Australian heart surgeon who has been in a Chinese prison for two years says it's time the Australian government took action to get him released.

Dr Zuying Du, who was a transplant specialist at St Vincent's Hospital and Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, is said to have been jailed after his former business partner stripped him of the business he founded, and listed it on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Dr Du's family say the Chinese authorities are taking too long to resolve the case and in the meantime Dr Du has developed significant health problems.

Correspondent: Tom Nightingale

Speakers: Tommy Du, Dr Zuying Du's son

TOM NIGHTINGALE: In February last year, Tommy Du went to Sydney Airport to meet his father, Zu Ying Du, off a plane from Beijing.

But his father had been detained at the airport in China, and has been in custody ever since.

TOMMY DU: He went on hunger strike, and he was threatening to maybe break some glass or things like that just to sort of risk physical harm to himself in order to try and get his message heard.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: Dr Du is an Australian citizen and was jailed for allegedly stealing money from a company.

The charges came as he tried to claim a stock holding worth tens of millions of dollars that he says he'd been cheated out of.

His son, Tommy Du, says he's innocent.

TOMMY DU: There is absolutely no doubt that there has been corruption, bribes paid to government officials and court officials.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: And you think this is all coming from his former business partners?

TOMMY DU: Absolutely, they had a lot to lose had my father won his court case to get his shareholding back.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: What sort of money are we talking about?

TOMMY DU: Well the company - my father's company - was subsequently listed on the Nasdaq through a reverse merger and you know, at last check, the market value of the listed company was about US$300 million. And you know my father's shareholding in the primary subsidiary was 66 per cent.

He worked in the blood plasma field, and he was researching some new products which would help with blood transfusions and things like that.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: The family says an appeal decision was due by about April. But it still hasn't happened, so they're asking the Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, to put pressure on Chinese authorities for a result.

TOMMY DU: They need to follow due process. The Chinese courts need to follow their own laws and their own legal procedures, and you know…

TOM NIGHTINGALE: And that means give a judgement?

TOMMY DU: Give a judgement - whether that's guilty or not, give a judgement, because at the moment he's just stuck in legal limbo in China without any progress on the case, and meanwhile we understand that his health is deteriorating, he's got cardiac arrhythmia.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: The family is also questioning the advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade about a public campaign.

TOMMY DU: So as early as last year we had contemplated going to the media, but the advice that DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) sort of gave to us when they heard that we were potentially considering going to the media was to exercise extreme caution.

TOM NIGHTINGALE: A spokesman for the Minister says that families aren't encouraged to avoid or engage with journalists.

He says the Ambassador to China, Frances Adamson, wrote to the Party Secretary of Shandong province yesterday about the delay in the appeal case and raising concerns about Dr Du's health.

About a month ago, consular staff made similar representations to the Shandong High Court and the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry.

The spokesman says both were acknowledged, but the matter remains outstanding.

Tommy Du says his family has resisted a public campaign, but now they believe there's little to lose.

The ABC hasn't been able to get a response from those the family is accusing of corruption.

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