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Canadian sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking

The conviction of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, may well aggravate already strained diplomatic relations between Beijing and Ottawa.

The World with AFP Posted today at 15h38

Time to Reading 2 min.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced on Monday 14 January to death by the Dalian court in north-east China.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced on Monday 14 January to death by the Dalian court in north-east China. CHINA STRINGER NETWORK / REUTERS

The decision is expected to help ease diplomatic relations between Beijing and Ottawa. A Canadian was sentenced on Monday, Jan. 14, to death in China after his new drug trial.

Sentenced in first instance in November to fifteen years in prison and 150,000 yuan (19,000 euros) in fines, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, appealed at the end of 2018. But the move turned against him, the high court from Liaoning Province (north-east), considering the verdict too lenient given the seriousness of the facts.

At his retrial on Monday, the defendant again claimed his innocence all day in the Dalian court: "I am not a drug dealer. I came to China to go sightseeing. "The court totally rejects the explanation and the defense of the accused, because they go against the facts"said the judge in passing a death sentence in a packed courtroom, where about 70 observers had taken place, including Canadian diplomats and foreign journalists. The accused can now appeal this new sentence.

Read also Huawei case: the Chinese puzzle of Justin Trudeau

222 kg of methamphetamine

The judges believe that Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, arrested in December 2014, played a "Key role" within a gang involved in drug trafficking. According to the Chinese prosecutors, this group planned to send 222 kg of methamphetamine to Australia, hidden in plastic pellets hidden in tires. "Not content to spread drugs in a country, the criminal organization has spread beyond the borders (…). It hurts human health and stability of countries "said the court.

Mr. Schellenberg testified before the judges that he came to China after traveling to Laos, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand. He says a friend recommended him a tourist translator – a Chinese named Xu Qing – and then he was involuntarily involved in an international drug trafficking ring. "This case concerns Xu Qing. He is an international drug dealer and a liar "said the accused at the helm. According to him, the brain of the network is Khamla Wong, a Canadian arrested in 2016 in Thailand and suspected of drug trafficking.

"Chinese courts are not independent"

The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs said it was following the case " closely " and provide consular assistance to Mr. Schellenberg since his arrest. "It is clear that Chinese courts are not independent" because "They can be influenced by the Chinese Communist Party" ruling in the country, said before the announcement of the verdict William Nee, the human rights organization Amnesty International.

Asked Friday at a regular press briefing, a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had called for "Do not politicize judicial issues". The lawsuit comes as Chinese-Canadian diplomatic relations are already degraded since the arrest in early December by Canada – at US request – of Meng Wanzhou, the financial director of China's telecommunications giant Huawei. In the process, China had arrested two Canadians: an ex-diplomat, Michael Kovrig, and a consultant, Michael Spavor. The Chinese authorities accuse them of having "Threatened national security". These arrests are widely perceived in the West as retaliatory measures.

Read the analysis: "The Huawei case touches the strategic rivalry between China and the United States"
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