Friday, 26 April, 2019

Death sentence heightens China, Canada tensions

Canadian sentenced to DEATH in China after being found guilty of drug smuggling China sentences Canadian man to death in drug case linked to Huawei row
Leonard Rios | 18 January, 2019, 00:29

A Chinese court has convicted a Canadian man of drug trafficking and issued the death penalty.

Meng has been released on bail faces extradition to the US.

Hua said there was enough evidence against the 36-year-old Canadian who was part of an global syndicate and smuggled 222 kg of methamphetamine in China.

Rights groups condemned the Schellenberg sentence while Guy St-Jacques, who was Canada's ambassador in Beijing when Kovrig worked there, expressed concern at how quickly the courts had acted.

Following Huawei exectuive, Meng Wanzhou's arrest in December, at least 13 Canadians have been detained in China, with majority deported.

China also suddenly began working hard to push Schellenberg's case to worldwide prominence, taking the highly unusual step of inviting foreign journalists into the court, the BBC's John Sudworth in Beijing reports.

Schellenberg's lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client now has 10 days to appeal.

The Dalian Intermediate People's Court announced Schellenberg's new sentence in a brief statement on its website, saying it would provide more details later.

China has argued that Schellenberg's death sentence was not political.

Shortly after Meng's arrest, Chinese law enforcement detained Canadian citizens Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on suspicion of jeopardizing China's national security.

Schellenberg claims he was framed by drug traffickers after Chinese police arrested him on a plane in Guangzhou in 2014. On Monday, after a new trial, he was sentenced to die.

Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed earlier that coercive measures have been taken against two Canadians suspected of jeopardizing China's national security.

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China also followed suit with a travel advisory of its own, warning its citizens that they should "fully assess the risks of going to Canada for tourism" and may find themselves "arbitrarily detained at the request of a third nation" in an apparent reference to Meng, who is the chief financial officer of tech behemoth Huawei.

Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau has accused Beijing of arbitrarily applying the death penalty in Schellenberg's case.

"His father has turned his back on him because of his criminal history although he still has the support of some family members", Brown said as he handed Schellenberg a two-year sentence.

"We urge the Canadian side to respect the rule of law, respect China's judicial sovereignty, correct their mistakes, and stop making such irresponsible remarks", foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing.

According to China.org.cn, a government-run website, at least 12 foreign drug dealers have been executed in China since 2000, "and other foreigners were sentenced to death for other serious crimes".

The rare decision to allow three foreign journalists to attend the hearing makes it "clear that the Chinese government wants [the] worldwide spotlight on this case", she added.

He said Beijing's handling of the case shows its refusal to recognize the concept of an independent judiciary, something unknown in China, where the ruling Communist Party controls the courts.

Hua told reporters that Kovrig is no longer a diplomat and entered China on an ordinary passport and business visa.

"I think this is wrong".

A police officer gestures at the photographer outside the Embassy of Canada in Beijing, China, on December 12.

"Anyone with normal judgment can see that the Meng Wanzhou case is not a normal legal case, and the detention of Meng Wanzhou is not just".

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