Canadian sentenced to death in China in drug smuggling case

China: Detained Canadian does not have diplomatic immunity

A Canadian man accused of drug smuggling in China faced a new trial Monday after an upper court called for a harsher sentence in a case that could further strain ties between Beijing and Ottawa.

A court in Dalian in northeastern Liaoning province announced Monday evening that it had given Schellenberg the death penalty after reconsidering his case.

Schellenberg's unusually swift appeal hearing and retrial came after the Chinese government was incensed by the December arrest in Vancouver, British Columbia, of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer.

Schellenberg was arrested in 2014 and received his original sentence in 2016 in a case that went unnoticed.

The sentence comes against the backdrop of the Chinese government´s anger over the arrest in Canada of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei last month on a USA extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.

Before the retrial, Schellenberg's family had voiced fears that he would become a bargaining chip for Beijing to seek Ms Meng's release, Ms Nelson-Jones said.

"After verifying the evidence, the court determined that the case is strong and Schellenberg is the principal culprit", the report said.

China has executed other foreigners for drug-related crimes in the past, including a Japanese national in 2014, a Filipina in 2013 and a Briton in 2009.


Following her arrest, China also detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig.

On Friday, Donald Clarke, a specialist in Chinese law at George Washington University, said in a blog post that Schellenberg's case had several unusual features, including the delay in trial and sentencing, the rare decision for and extraordinary speed in scheduling a retrial, and invitations to worldwide media to observe the case.

Schellenberg appears to be the first North American sentenced to death in China in recent times.

Schellenberg was told in court he has the right to appeal within 10 days of receiving the ruling.

The Chinese foreign ministry said Friday critics "can stop recklessly suspecting others of politicising legal issues just because they have done so".

Chinese prosecutors say that Schellenberg was part of an global syndicate which planned to send some 222kg of methamphetamine to Australia, hidden within plastic pellets concealed in rubber tyres.

The Dalian court was filled with about 70 observers, who were patted down and made to empty pockets - receipts and stray coins were to be left at the security check.

Prosecutors presented Xu as a witness, who in almost two hours of testimony did not look at Schellenberg.

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