Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Death sentence for Canadian in China 'of extreme concern': PM

A still image taken from CCTV video shows Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg in court where he was sentenced with a death penalty for drug smuggling in Dalian Canadian sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling amid tensions between countries
Steven Clarke | 14 January, 2019, 17:56

A report published on Monday by the Dalian court said Schellenberg directed a translator he hired in 2014 to carry out a series of activities, including the purchase of auto tyres to hide the methamphetamine for smuggling purposes.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian citizen arrested in China in 2014, was sentenced to death by the Dalian Intermediate People's Court over drug smuggling accusations, CBC reported, citing a statement by the court.

The sentence comes after China detained two Canadians in December in apparent retaliation for Canada's arrest of a Chinese technology executive.

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

Evidence obtained by the investigators "suggests Schellenberg was involved in organized worldwide drug crime", the prosecution argued.

"China has moved from merely detaining Canadians as hostages to actually threatening - subtly, to be sure - to kill a Canadian who would otherwise not have been executed if it does not get what it wants", Donald Clarke said.

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

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In the weeks following her seizure, Chinese authorities detained two Canadians living in China on suspicion of national security crimes. The court heard the appeal on December 29 and ordered a retrial in the lower court. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 150,000 yuan (US$22,000) in November last year for smuggling more than 200kg of methamphetamine in China.

"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.

Ottawa said it was following the case "very closely" and has provided Schellenberg with consular assistance.

Trudeau suggested that Kovrig still enjoyed diplomatic immunity, an assertion rejected by the Chinese foreign ministry on Monday. He said a friend recommended a man named Xu Qing as a translator.

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

Chinese prosecutors say that Schellenberg was part of an global syndicate which planned to send some 222kg of methamphetamine to Australia, hidden within plastic pellets concealed in rubber tyres. His sentencing came during a one-day retrial on Monday.

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