China announces death sentence for Canadian drug trafficker amid Huawei row

Beijing: A Chinese court here on Monday announced death sentence for a Canadian man who was earlier convicted under charges of drug trafficking and had already served 15 years of imprisonment.

The accused, named Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was facing a retrial in the drug trafficking case, as the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court, after taking side with the prosecutors who provided new evidence in the case, claimed that the 15 years of prison sentence was too light for the accused, Washington Post reported.

The Canadian drug trafficker was reportedly arrested in 2014 in China and was announced 15 years of prison sentence in 2016. The case, however, received public attention when the Chinese government, this year, invited the 70 observers including a small group of foreign journalists to attend his hearing in the appeals court.

The sentence comes amid the escalation of China’s diplomatic row with the United States and Canada after Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Sabrina Meng Wanzhou was arrested last month in Vancouver at the request of the United States.

A press statement released by the Canadian government on January 3 said that Beijing has detained 13 Canadians in total, since Wang’s arrest on December 1. However, due to the escalation of a diplomatic spat between China and Canada, the detention of three Canadians was officially revealed. However, Thursday’s statement revealed that out of total 13 detainees, eight have been released.

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to “intercede” in the case related to the Canadian drug trafficker, South China Morning Post reported.

After showing “extreme concern” over the issue, the Canadian Prime Minister accused China of “arbitrarily” applying the death sentence against Schellenberg and asked “all countries around the world” to be aware of China’s manner of conduct.