Chinese Court Sentences Canadian to Death Over Drug Trafficking Case

Postado Janeiro 14, 2019

A Canadian man who was convicted of smuggling drugs in China has been sentenced to death.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was given the death penalty in Dalian Intermediate People's Court in the northeast province of Liaoning after an appeals court last month agreed with prosecutors that Schellenberg's original punishment was too lenient.

Courts heard an appeal of that conviction on December 29, 2018, and ordered a retrial for Monday, raising the possibility of a harsher sentence.

When pressed on details, he frequently said he could not remember and to refer to a written statement for details, including when Schellenberg questioned him about 180,000 yuan he was purportedly given.

The case has been condemned by Western legal experts and Schellenberg's relatives, who say that China is using Schellenberg as a bargaining chip in its efforts to free a top technology executive detained in Canada.

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

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 global drug trafficking syndicate.

Schellenberg was again found guilty of taking part in an global drug-smuggling ring, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Prosecutors presented Xu as a witness, who in almost two hours of testimony did not look at Schellenberg.

Two other Chinese men have been involved in this case - one has sentenced to life imprisonment, another handed a suspended death sentence.

"He's become a pawn", his aunt Lauri Nelson-Jones told the New York Times.

"It is obvious ... that Schellenberg's fate will have little to do with his actual guilt or innocence", Donald Clarke, a professor at George Washington University specializing in Chinese law, told the South China Morning Post. "Schellenberg could, for example, be sentenced to death with a two-year suspension". Clarke pointed out that re-trials are generally a rare occurrence in China.

Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada, sparking a backlash. 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.