Chinese court sentences Canadian to death

A general view of the Intermediate People's Court of Dalian in Liaoning province China Jan. 14 2019

A general view of the Intermediate People's Court of Dalian in Liaoning province China Jan. 14 2019

A Canadian man originally given 15 years in prison for drug smuggling was sentenced to death in China on Monday after a one-day retrial, the surprising verdict coming amid growing tensions between Beijing and Ottowa after the arrest of a top Chinese tech executive last month.

The Canadian, who claims to be innocent and accuses China of framing him, appealed his case - but his appeal apparently backfired as the Chinese prosecutors considered his sentence too lenient and demanded a harsher one.

In the weeks following her seizure, Chinese authorities detained two Canadians living in China on suspicion of national security crimes.

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

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.

Schellenberg was detained by Chinese authorities back in 2014, accused of being instrumental to drug smuggling within the country as well as having connections to worldwide drug trafficking, the South China Morning Post reported.

On Friday, Donald Clarke, a specialist in Chinese law at George Washington University, said in a blog post that Schellenberg's case had several unusual features, including the delay in trial and sentencing, the rare decision for and extraordinary speed in scheduling a retrial, and invitations to worldwide media to observe the case.

Amnesty China researcher William Nee. The retrial on Monday was attended by about 70 observers including a small group of foreign journalists.

Robert Long and Ada Yu support Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou outside her bail hearing at British Columbia Superior Courts in Vancouver, British Columbia, on December 11, 2018.

"You can ask these (critics) which laws the relevant Chinese judicial organs and departments have violated by (ordering a retrial)", foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular press briefing on Friday.

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

China has executed other foreigners for drug-related crimes.

"If no laws have been broken, I hope that these people can stop recklessly suspecting others of politicising legal issues just because they have done so".

In 2014, a Japanese national sentenced in Dalian was put to death for drug offences, according to Tokyo diplomats and media reports.

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