Published: Tue, January 15, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Canadian sentenced to death in China on drugs charges will appeal: lawyer

Canadian sentenced to death in China on drugs charges will appeal: lawyer

"It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our worldwide friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply (the) death in this case", he told reporters in Ottawa.

The development further strained already tense relations between Canada and China over the treatment of each other's citizens by their respective justice systems.

However, Hua said the allegation that China arbitrarily detained Canadian citizens is "totally groundless".

The convicted, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was originally apprehended by Chinese authorities in 2014 and was sentenced to prison time in November.

A court in the northeast port city of Dalian subsequently ruled that Schellenberg's sentence was too light and that he had been a key figure in an worldwide drug-smuggling operation.

Meng Wanzhou, who is the daughter of company founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Vancouver in relation to suspected violations by Huawei of United States sanctions placed on Iran.

The sentenced was changed by a Chinese court on Monday, following his retrial. "I came to China as a tourist", AFP reported Schellenberg saying just before the verdict was announced.

Schellenberg's aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones, said the family's worst fears had been confirmed.

Schellenberg says he thought his acquaintance was just showing him around China and doing errands. "It is rather unimaginable what he must be feeling and thinking". "It is a horrific, unfortunate, heartbreaking situation".

Zhang said he argued in the one-day trial Monday that there was insufficient evidence to prove his client's involvement in the drug smuggling operation.

He told The Associated Press that "it's hard not to see a link" between the case and Canada's arrest of Meng.

Schellenberg had been prepared for more severe punishment, so he maintained a calm demeanour in court, Zhang said.

The court said Schellenberg was involved in smuggling 222 kilograms (489 pounds) of crystal meth.

The death sentence was quickly condemned by rights groups.

Trudeau accused China again on Monday of not respecting longstanding practices regarding diplomatic immunity.

It followed an increasingly acrimonious trade dispute between the United States and China.

What is Schellenberg's case about?

"I certainly never felt threatened at any time in those days", he said.

A Reuters report, quoting a court statement from its website said Schellenberg was told in court that he has the right to appeal to Liaoning High Court within 10 days on receiving the ruling.

The death sentence comes a month into China and Canada's diplomatic feud over Ottawa's arrest and detention of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Huawei. "It needs to be dealt with by officials in the Canadian government at the highest level, and that is the prime minister". In 2009, Akmal Shaikh was executed in China for smuggling heroin.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was initially arrested in China in 2014.

He said Canadians are divided as to whether China should be seen primarily as a partner or as a threat.

He told the court on Monday, according to Globe and Mail China correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe: "I am not a drug smuggler".

The collective power of like-minded liberal democracies could help Canada assert its position in an increasingly splintered world, Rowswell added.

Lu Shaye, China's ambassador to Canada, suggested in a newspaper article last week that the arrest of Kovrig and Spavor was "China's self-defence", but did not give details.

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