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Canadian sentenced to death for drug trafficking

Beijing and Ottawa are in the midst of a diplomatic crisis since the arrest in early December of the financial director of Chinese telecom giant Huawei.

His sentence was aggravated on appeal. A Chinese court on Monday (January 14th) sentenced a Canadian accused of drug trafficking to death. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, had already been sentenced in first instance to 15 years in prison in November. When considering his appeal in December, prosecutors said the sentence was too light and inappropriate.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg claimed his innocence all day in a court in the northeastern city of Dalian. "I am not a drug dealer. I came to China to do some sightseeing "he assured. "The court totally rejects the explanations and the defense of the accused, because they go against the facts", said the judge, pronouncing the verdict in a packed courtroom, where about 70 observers had taken place. Among them were Canadian diplomats and three foreign journalists.

Drug-related offenses are very severely punished in China. A British man convicted for smuggling heroin was executed in 2009.

This verdict is expected to increase the diplomatic crisis between Beijing and Ottawa. According to a count of the Canadian government given ten days ago, thirteen Canadian nationals have been arrested in China since the arrest, at the beginning of December in Canada, at the request of Washington, the financial director of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou. This denies the accusations against her by the United States, where she is accused of "conspiracy to undermine several financial institutions." It would have hidden the links between Huawei and one of its subsidiaries, which was looking to sell equipment to Iran despite US sanctions. She faces more than 30 years in prison in the United States.

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