Published: Fri, January 18, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Canadian sentenced to death in China for drugs will appeal: lawyer

Canadian sentenced to death in China for drugs will appeal: lawyer

A court in China has sentenced a Canadian to death for drug-related offenses, sparking a row with Ottawa, and once again spotlighting the detention in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, a top executive of telecom giant Huawei.

China has not linked any of the three Canadians' cases to Meng's arrest but has warned of severe consequences if she was not immediately released.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, the Canadian who was sentenced to death in China on January 14 after being convicted of organizing worldwide drug trafficking, has been found guilty of drug crimes before, according to a report by the Abbotsford News.

Schellenberg was first arrested in China roughly four years ago on accusations of smuggling in 222 kg of methamphetamine.

Schellenberg had originally been sentenced to 15 years in prison and a 150,000-yuan ($22,000) forfeiture in November.

Schellenberg's lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client has 10 days to contest the latest sentence.

On January 14, a lower court in Dalian awarded the death penalty to Robert Lloyd Schellenberg.

China has argued that Schellenberg's death sentence was not political.

Two other Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, are also being held in China on unspecified allegations related to national security.

Zhang said there was insufficient evidence to prove Schellenberg was part of a drug syndicate, or that he was involved in the smuggling of methamphetamines. The court heard the appeal on 29 December and ordered a retrial in the lower court.

China has since detained two Canadian nationals, accusing them of endangering national security.

Lu Shaye, China's ambassador to Canada, suggested in a newspaper article last week the arrest of Kovrig and Spavor was "China's self-defense", but gave no details.

The move prompted Canada to update its travel advisory for China, urging its citizens to "exercise a high degree of caution in China due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws". Schellenberg can appeal his sentence to the Liaoning Provincial Higher People's Court.

The plea from Ottawa came as the rift with China deepened yet again in a worsening diplomatic dispute following the arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive accused in the US of fraud related to violations of sanctions against Iran.

Mr Trudeau said on Monday it was of "extreme concern" that China chose to "arbitrarily apply the death penalty". Since 2000, more than 10 foreigners from Britain, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, South Africa, Myanmar, Laos and Russian Federation have reportedly been sentenced to death in Chinese courts.

"As long as the foreign citizens in China abide by Chinese laws and regulations, they are welcomed and their safety and freedom are guaranteed", Hua said.

Earlier on Monday, a Chinese spokeswoman said Kovrig, the former Canadian diplomat detained in December, does not enjoy diplomatic immunity, rejecting a complaint from Trudeau that the man's rights were being denied.

"On that, I think Canada's in relatively good position because we traditionally have been excellent at banding together and creating meaningful alliances and institutions with a large number of very powerful countries".

"What's unusual is how this case shifted from extremely slow handling to suddenly rapid fire movement through the courts", said Margaret Lewis, a law professor at Seton Hall University.

"Anyone with normal judgment can see that the Meng Wanzhou case is not a normal legal case, and the detention of Meng Wanzhou is not just".

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