China sentences Canadian to death, raises diplomatic tension

Michael Kovrig

China says detained Canadian Michael Kovrig doesn't have diplomatic immunity

The sentence comes after China detained two Canadians in December in apparent retaliation for Canada's arrest of a Chinese technology executive.

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.

His case was then publicized by the Chinese press following the December 1 arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on USA charges related to doing business with Iran. But suddenly last month, an appeals court agreed with prosecutors who said the sentence was too lenient, and scheduled Monday's retrial with just four days' notice.

He was originally detained in China in 2014, with a trial that began in 2016. China has executed foreign drug smugglers before: United Kingdom citizen Akmal Shaikh was put to death in 2009, despite protests from British authorities, for smuggling over four kilograms of heroin.

"After verifying the evidence, the court determined that the case is strong and Schellenberg is the principal culprit", the report said.

Chinese authorities also arrested two Canadians, Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman.

Trudeau's statement suggested Kovrig carried a diplomatic passport while on his sabbatical - which is possible if authorised by Canada's foreign ministry - but Hua said he was in China on an ordinary travel document with a business visa.

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.

Amnesty China researcher William Nee.

"It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our worldwide friends and allies, that China has chosen to arbitrarily apply [the] death penalty", he said.

He said a friend recommended a man named Xu Qing as a translator and he was swept up in what has turned out to be an global drug trafficking syndicate.

Before the retrial, Schellenberg's family had voiced fears that he would become a bargaining chip for Beijing to seek Meng's release, Nelson-Jones said.

According to the court, Schellenberg was recruited to help smuggle 222 kilograms of methamphetamine from a Chinese warehouse to Australia.

"This is a case about Xu Qing". Schellenberg, who was to have been deported after serving his sentence, had lodged an appeal after being handed a 15-year sentence on November 20 in Dalian. It says the two men are being investigated in accordance with Chinese law.

"This is a case about about a man named King (Xu Qing), he is an worldwide drug smuggler and a liar", Schellenberg told the court, accusing Xu of setting him up.

In 2009, China executed a Briton, Akmal Shaikh, on charges of smuggling heroin despite his supporters' protest that he was mentally ill.

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