Published: Tue, January 15, 2019
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

China sentences Canadian to death, raises diplomatic tension

China sentences Canadian to death, raises diplomatic tension

The update noted the "risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws" and highlighted the severe penalties for drug offences, including death.

Schellenberg was told in court he had the right to appeal to Liaoning High Court within 10 days upon receiving the ruling, the intermediate court said in a second statement.

After showing "extreme concern" over the issue, the Canadian Prime Minister accused China of "arbitrarily" applying the death sentence against Schellenberg and asked "all countries around the world" to be aware of China's manner of conduct.

A lawyer for Schellenberg, Zhang Dongshuo, told reporters that his client is likely to appeal the court's decision, according to SCMP.

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

But last month an appeals court judge agreed with prosecutors that the sentence was too lenient and he faced a retrial with just four days' notice.

It did not offer further information about Schellenberg, including his age and occupation, though media reports have said he is 36 years of age and a former oil worker.

"China is going to face lots of questions about why this particular person, of this particular nationality, had to be retried at this particular time", Human Rights Watch's Washington-based China director Sophie Richardson told Reuters. He said prosecutors introduced no new evidence at the retrial and called the case "unique". One was given a life sentence and the other a suspended death sentence. He says he was unaware that he was actually being exposed to a meth smuggling plan. Beijing has previously executed foreign nationals convicted of drug-related crimes - a Briton caught smuggling heroin was executed in 2009, prompting a British outcry over what it said was the lack of any mental health assessment.

China is believed to execute more people annually than any other country, but is highly secretive about the number. Global human rights organisations estimate the figure at around 2,000. But within weeks of Meng's December 1 arrest, an appeals court suddenly reversed that decision, saying the sentence was too lenient, and scheduled Monday's retrial with just four days' notice.

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Meng, who is also the daughter of the Chinese tech company's founder, has since been released on bail pending an extradition hearing to the United States on charges of violating sanctions against Iran.

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.

Chinese authorities later detained two Canadian nationals - a former diplomat and a business consultant - on suspicion of endangering national security, in what has been seen by analysts as retaliation for Meng's arrest.

In response to her arrest in December, Huawei said in a statement it was "not aware of any wrongdoing" by Meng and said it had been provided "very little information" on the incident, other than Meng being detained by Canadian authorities on behalf of the U.S. when she was transferring flights in Canada.

This photograph taken and released by the Intermediate Peoples' Court of Dalian on January 14, 2019 shows Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg (C) during his retrial on drug trafficking charges in the court in Dalian in China's northeast Liaoning province.

The official, who was not authorised to comment publicly about the case, spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was initially arrested in China in 2014.

China said the claim of immunity makes Canada a " laughing stock".

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