Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Canadian risks harsher sentence, including death penalty, at China drug retrial

Canadian risks harsher sentence, including death penalty, at China drug retrial

Schellenberg was to have been deported after serving his sentence.

In his defence at his retrial, Schellenberg, a 36-year-old former oil industry employee, said he was a tourist framed by criminals, rejecting allegations he had smuggled more than 200 kgs of methamphetamine in China, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

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.

China's diplomatic clash with Canada escalated sharply on Monday (Jan 14), when a Canadian man was sentenced to death for drug smuggling after a Chinese court overrode his plea of innocence at a retrial that had been swiftly called after tensions erupted between the two countries.

Schellenberg, who was reportedly detained in northeast Liaoning province in 2014, is accused of playing an important role in drug smuggling and of potential involvement in worldwide organised crime.

China also has detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, who now works for a foreign think tank, and Canadian businessman Michael Spavor, in what is widely considered to be retaliation for Meng's arrest.

While unusual, it is not unprecedented for a foreign national to be sentenced to death in China.

China has executed other foreigners for drug-related crimes in the past.

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Before the retrial, Schellenberg's family had voiced fears that he would become a bargaining chip for Beijing to seek Ms Meng's release, Ms Nelson-Jones said.

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.

"After verifying the evidence, the court determined that the case is strong and Schellenberg is the principal culprit", the report said.

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.

Beijing has repeatedly denied any links to Canada´s arrest of the Huawei executive.

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

The court was filled with about 70 observers who were patted down and made to empty pockets - receipts and stray coins were to be left at security.

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.

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