Canadian sentenced to death in China in drug smuggling case

China denies detained Canadian has diplomatic immunity

Chinese Court Sentences Canadian to Death Over Drug Trafficking Case - Report

Prosecutors argued that Schellenberg's 15-year prison sentence was too lenient, in light of new evidence of his alleged involvement in a drug trafficking operation, according to news reports.

A Canadian man, serving a jail sentence for smuggling drugs, has been sentenced to death by a Chinese court on Monday amid ongoing diplomatic tension between the two countries.

Schellenberg can appeal the verdict within the next 10 days. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of smuggling drugs last November.

In late December, a Dalian court bolstered his charge to global drug trafficking, deemed his punishment to be too light, and called for a retrial.

"As it should be to all our worldwide friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty, as in this case facing a Canadian".

"It's clear that Chinese courts are not independent, and by systematic design, courts can be influenced by Communist Party officials", he said.

Some foreign experts have said China's swift action in all three cases appeared meant to pressure Canada to free Meng and return her to China, rather than sending her to the United States.

Lauri Nelson-Jones, Schellenberg's aunt, told The Globe and Mail ahead of Monday's retrial: "There's no way they are not using him as a pawn".

Washington wants Meng - the daughter of Huawei's founder - extradited to face charges that she misled banks about the company's business dealings in Iran.

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.

Chinese prosecutors accused Schellenberg of trying to smuggle 222 kg of methamphetamine in a vehicle tire liner from China to Australia, and listed a series of phone conversations implicating him.

A death sentence anywhere in the world is a travesty but it is more so in places like China, where fair-trial rights remain at best elusive, said Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch.

China denounced her arrest, warning of unspecified consequences unless she was released, and has since detained two Canadians on suspicion of endangering state security.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied that Schellenberg's trial and the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor have anything to do with Meng's arrest.

The government will continue to do so, he added.

Two other Chinese men have been involved in this case - one has sentenced to life imprisonment, another handed a suspended death sentence.

"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.

In 2009, Akmal Shaikh, a British citizen convicted of carrying up to 4 kilograms (8.8 pounds) of heroin, was executed by lethal injection despite fierce protests from the United Kingdom government and his family, who said he suffered from a mental disorder and was tricked into carrying the drugs.

"Many factors in this case raise serious questions of concern: particularly, that the retrial was rushed through so quickly and that state-run media drew such deliberate attention to the case", William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, told AFP.

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