Canadian man sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling

Chinese police officers stand guard outside the Canadian embassy in Beijing

China's strict drug laws apply a sentence of "15 years, life imprisonment or death" as well as property confiscation for drug trafficking in amounts over a kilogram.

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested at the Vancouver airport on December 1 at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited to face fraud charges.

Schellenberg can appeal the verdict within the next 10 days.

A lawyer for Schellenberg, Zhang Dongshuo, told Reuters his client would probably appeal against the death sentence.

Kovrig was detained by China's spy agency on suspicion of "activities endangering national security" on December 10, days after Canada arrested a Huawei Technologies Co. executive as part of a USA -led extradition effort. He was tried in 2016 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. But last month an appeals court agreed with prosecutors who said the sentence was too lenient.

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A former oil worker, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was initially arrested back in 2015 on suspicion of smuggling more than 200 kilograms of methamphetamine into China.

"It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our global friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply (the) death penalty.as in this case", Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

"Many factors in this case raise serious questions of concern: particularly, that the retrial was rushed through so quickly and that state-run media drew such deliberate attention to the case", William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International, told AFP.

In his opening statement on Monday, Schellenberg said he had gone to China after travelling through Southeast Asia, including Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Court retrials are rare in China and retrials calling for a harsher sentence are even rarer, said Donald Clarke, a George Washington University professor specialising in Chinese law.

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But prosecutors said they had evidence that "highly suggests Schellenberg was involved in organised worldwide drug crime", it reported quoting Chinese state-run broadcaster CGTN.

China has not directly linked its arrest of the two Canadians with Meng's arrest in Canada.

Trudeau suggested that Kovrig still enjoyed diplomatic immunity, an assertion rejected by the Chinese foreign ministry on Monday.

At the retrial, prosecutors said that Schellenberg was heavily involved in a failed attempt to smuggle methamphetamines to Australia in pellets stuffed inside tires. But Schellenberg said he was unwittingly recruited into the scheme by Xu, reported Agence France-Presse, one of three foreign news outlets allowed into the court.

Schellenberg was again found guilty of taking part in an global drug-smuggling ring, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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