Chinese Court Sentences Canadian to Death Over Drug Trafficking Case

Chinese Court Sentences Canadian to Death Over Drug Trafficking Case

"As it should be to all our global friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty, as in this case facing a Canadian".

After his arrest, Schellenberg was held for 15 months before his first trial, and it took an additional 32 months before a court declared him guilty and sentenced him to 15 years in prison for his role in a failed attempt to smuggle drugs from China to Australia. While reviewing the appeal, Liaoning province's high court argued that the Canadian had been part of an worldwide drug smuggling operation and ruled that the initial punishment was too lenient, considering the crimes that he had committed.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada, sparking a backlash.

Trudeau on Friday accused China of "arbitrarily and unfairly" detaining the two men and of ignoring Kovrig's "diplomatic immunity" - earning a scornful rebuke from Beijing. A Canadian teacher was detained but released.

Schellenberg's lawyer Zhang Dongshuo told Reuters he will likely appeal the sentence.

In his final statement before the sentence was announced, Schellenberg said, "I am not a drug smuggler". He said prosecutors introduced no new evidence at the retrial and called the case "unique".

"The procedures in Mr. Schellenberg's case would be unusual even if he was a Chinese national".

Before his arrest, Schellenberg had prepared to flee to Thailand but was arrested while in transit, the court said.

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Two Chinese men have also received sentences - one to life imprisonment, while another was handed a suspended death sentence.

Court retrials are rare in China and retrials calling for a harsher sentence are even rarer, said Donald Clarke, a George Washington University professor specialising in Chinese law.

In 2009, Akmal Shaikh, a British citizen convicted of carrying up to 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) of heroin, was executed by lethal injection despite fierce protests from the United Kingdom government and his family, who said he suffered from a mental disorder and was tricked into carrying the drugs.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized the ruling, which comes as relations have strained between the two countries following the arrest of a senior executive from the Chinese tech firm Huawei in Vancouver last month.

Trudeau said last week that Chinese officials were not respecting Kovrig's diplomatic immunity. Both of them were of Chinese origin though one had entered China on a Canadian passport.

"According to the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations and worldwide law, he is not entitled to diplomatic immunity", Hua said at a daily briefing. "I suggest that the relevant Canadian person carefully study the Vienna Convention. before commenting on the cases, or they would only expose themselves to ridicule with such specious remarks". He said there is a notion of residual diplomatic immunity that means a country is not allowed to question someone on the work they did when they were a diplomat.

The move was widely seen as retaliation for Canada's arrest of a top Chinese executive from telecom giant Huawei.

Schellenberg's December hearing came three weeks into a diplomatic feud between China and Canada over the arrest and detention of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's CFO and the daughter of the company's founder.

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