China court sentences Canadian to death for drug smuggling

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"Amnesty International is very concerned that Robert Schellenberg may be sentenced to death, particularly as drug-related offences do not meet the threshold of the "most serious crimes", to which the use of the death penalty must be restricted under international law", Nee said.

The court on Monday said Schellenberg had an "extremely large" negative impact on China and was a "core member" of an worldwide drug ring.

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.

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

"This is a case about Xu Qing, he is an global drug smuggler and a liar", Schellenberg told the court.

But prosecutors said they had evidence that "highly suggests Schellenberg was involved in organised global drug crime", it reported quoting Chinese state-run broadcaster CGTN.

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

Courts heard an appeal of that conviction on December 29, 2018, and ordered a retrial for Monday, raising the possibility of a harsher sentence.

Canadian sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling amid tensions between countries

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.

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

Beijing has repeatedly denied any links to Canada´s arrest of the Huawei executive.

Trudeau suggested that Kovrig still enjoyed diplomatic immunity, an assertion rejected by the Chinese foreign ministry on Monday.

He said a friend recommended him a man named Xu Qing as a translator and he was swept up in what has turned out to be an global drug trafficking syndicate.

Schellenberg claimed the drug deal was masterminded by Khamla Wong, a Canadian who was arrested in Thailand in 2016 on drug charges.

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

Two other Chinese men were involved in the case - one was sentenced to life in jail, while the other was given a suspended death sentence.

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