China sentences Canadian to death, raises tension

China sentences Canadian to death, raises tension

China sentences Canadian to death, raises tension

A Canadian citizen appealing a 15-year sentence for drug trafficking had his punishment changed to the death sentence on Monday, a decision that has exacerbated a diplomatic row between Beijing and Ottawa.

"The court, instead of deciding the appeal one way or the other by itself, sent the case back down to the original trial court for a re-trial", Clarke wrote in a blog post on LawFare.

Speaking to reporters, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the death sentence arbitrary, and said that Canada is very concerned about the case.

The sentence comes against the backdrop of Beijing's anger over the arrest in Canada of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei last month on a U.S. extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was detained in China in 2014 and sentenced to 15 years last November, before a Chinese court said his sentence was too lenient and retried him.

The newer, harsher sentence has drawn attention now as many people are linking Schellenberg's case to the ongoing tensions between Canada and China following the arrest of Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou here.

A court in Dalian, China, sentenced a 36-year-old Canadian man to death on charges of worldwide drug trafficking on Monday.

In an opening statement, Schellenberg said he had come to China after travelling through Southeast Asia, including Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

"The court completely rejects the accused person's explanation and defense because it is completely at odds with the facts", the chief judge told the court.

But Chinese prosecutors said Schellenberg was the principal suspect in a case involving an global syndicate that planned to send some 222 kilogrammes (490 pounds) of methamphetamine to Australia.

She was granted bail by a Canadian court several days later but remains under constant surveillance and must wear an electronic ankle tag.

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A lawyer for Schellenberg, Zhang Dongshuo, told Reuters his client would probably appeal against the death sentence.

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.

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.

China's ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, accused Ottawa of exhibiting "Western egotism and white supremacy" in the case of Meng's arrest last week.

"According to the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations and global law, he is not entitled to diplomatic immunity", Hua said at a daily briefing.

Since Meng's arrest, China detained two more Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor, on vague claims that they threaten Chinese national security. "I suggest that the relevant Canadian person carefully study the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and worldwide law before commenting on the cases, or they would only expose themselves to ridicule with such specious remarks".

A Canadian teacher was also detained but then released.

"It's hard not to see a link" between the case and Canada's arrest of Meng, Saint-Jacques told The Associated Press news agency.

"Since the December 1st arrest of Ms. Wanzhou, Canada has been subject to retaliatory detentions by the Chinese government".

Canada briefly detained Meng before allowing her to await extradition to the United States in a multi-million dollar home she owns in the country.

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