China sentences Canadian man to death for drug smuggling

14 January, 2019, 17:57 | Author: Wade Massey
  • China sentences Canadian man to death for drug smuggling

A court in northeast China's Liaoning Province has sentenced Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death for alleged drug smuggling, as tensions persist between Beijing and Ottawa over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou last month in Vancouver.

The ruling comes amid tensions between Beijing and Ottawa, which began after the latter arrested top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the US.

Schellenberg was detained by Chinese authorities back in 2014, accused of being instrumental to drug smuggling within the country as well as having connections to worldwide drug trafficking, the South China Morning Post reported. While reviewing the appeal, Liaoning province's high court argued that the Canadian had been part of an global drug smuggling operation and ruled that the initial punishment was too lenient, considering the crimes that he had committed.

Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on December 1 at the request of the United States, raising tensions between Canada and China.

In a statement, the court alleged he was involved in organized global drug crimes.

"It's clear that Chinese courts are not independent, and by systematic design, courts can be influenced by Communist Party officials", William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, told AFP.

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Chinese authorities later detained two Canadian nationals - a former diplomat and a business consultant - on suspicion of endangering national security, a move seen as retaliation over the Huawei executive´s arrest.

Lu Kang, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized China for "not respecting the principles of diplomatic immunity" in Kovrig's arrest. "Schellenberg argued that he was a tourist visiting China and framed by criminals".

He said a friend recommended a man named Xu Qing as a translator, and Schellenberg was swept up in what turned out to be an worldwide drug trafficking syndicate.

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

Prosecutors brought in Xu as a witness, who in nearly two hours of testimony never once turned to look at Schellenberg.

When pressed on details, he frequently said he could not remember and to refer to a written statement for details, including when Schellenberg questioned him about 180,000 yuan he was purportedly given. His sentencing came during a one-day retrial on Monday.

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