A Romanian teacher who hoped to complete his Chinese jail sentence back in Romania has gone on hunger strike to pressure local authorities to honor an agreement to bring him home, Balkan Insight reported.
Romania’s justice ministry said in January that Romanian English-language teacher Marius Balo would be transferred from his Chinese prison where he has been jailed in since March 2014 to Romania.
Beijing’s justice ministry approved his transfer to Romania after a court had previously agreed he could complete his eight-year prison sentence for fraud which was handed down in 2016.
However, almost a year later, the 39-year old is still holed up in China.
He declared a hunger strike on Monday, in a bid to force the Romanian government to unlock the deadlock keeping him behind bars in China, his lawyer in Romania, Eugen Iordachescu, told Balkan Insight.
His uncle Ioan Felecan who is reportedly his only living relative said he resorted to the extreme measure as he was in a state of despair, lawyers were reported as saying.
Lawyers said after China agreed to let him serve the rest of his sentence in a Romanian prison, there was no reaction from Romanian authorities.
Romanian officials apparently cited the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine rules as reasons why he hadn’t been transferred to Romania, his lawyer said.
They said he is forced “to work at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week” in order to receive food.
Marius Balo holds a holds a Masters in Divinity from a U.S. university, claims his basic rights violated during his process, he claimed in a letter sent to the Romanian authorities.
He has admitted lending his passport to a Chinese national who used his identity to register several companies in the UK, which later committed massive fraud.
He received just 80 US dollars from the companies’ real owners, and says he did not know of the criminal intentions of the Chinese national
For more than two years, he was held in a 16-meter square cell with no daylight along with 12 Chinese prisoners. He was tied up and taken out twice a month by guards who coerced him into making a confession about a sum of money he had received as a professor at a Chinese university.
He was eventually convicted in March 2016 based on the testimony of someone he’d never seen and was then incarcerated in the Shanghai Maximum Security prison, according to his lawyer.