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China sentences Canadian man to death for drug smuggling

14 January 2019

Last month, a court ordered Schellenberg to be retried after he appealed a 15-year prison sentence for smuggling methamphetamines. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $22,000. However, the following month, the High People's Court of Liaoning Province ordered a retrial after prosecutors called for Schellenberg to receive a harsher punishment because of the emergence of new evidence which showed his involvement in an worldwide drug smuggling syndicate.

Kovrig was detained by China's spy agency on suspicion of "activities endangering national security" on December 10, days after Canada arrested a Huawei Technologies Co. executive as part of a USA -led extradition effort. Washington suspects the top Huawei manager of facilitating the subversion of American sanctions against Iran, which were imposed in November 2018. China has executed foreign drug smugglers before: United Kingdom citizen Akmal Shaikh was put to death in 2009, despite protests from British authorities, for smuggling over four kilograms of heroin.

Trudeau said last week that Chinese officials were not respecting the diplomatic immunity of Michael Kovrig.

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

He said a friend recommended a man named Xu Qing as a translator, and Schellenberg was swept up in what turned out to be an worldwide drug trafficking syndicate.

The crux of the retrial hinges on how much Schellenberg knows about the drug deal, which he claims was masterminded by Khamla Wong, a Canadian who was in 2016 arrested on drug charges.

At the retrial, prosecutors said that Schellenberg was heavily involved in a failed attempt to smuggle methamphetamines to Australia in pellets stuffed inside tires.

Prosecutors brought in Xu as a witness, who in nearly two hours of testimony never once turned to look at Schellenberg.

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.

"It is obvious. that Schellenberg's fate will have little to do with his actual guilt or innocence", Clarke added.

Following news of Schellenberg's sentence, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a short public statement, saying: "It is of extreme concern to us as a govt-as it should be to all our intl friends and allies-that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply a death penalty... as in this case facing a Canadian".

Ottawa has said it was following the case "very closely".

Beijing has repeatedly denied any diplomatic pressure behind Schellenberg's case.

"I would suggest the Canadian study the Vienna Convention before making such a comment, so as not to be inaccurate and make oneself a laughing stock", Hua said, in response to a question about Trudeau's remarks. It says the two men are being investigated in accordance with Chinese law.

China sentences Canadian man to death for drug smuggling