January 20, 2019

Canadian sentenced to death in China in drug smuggling case

14 January 2019, 06:39 | Darnell Patrick

Chinese police officers stand guard outside the Canadian embassy in Beijing

Chinese police officers stand guard outside the Canadian embassy in Beijing

He can now appeal the decision. The retrial on Monday was attended by about 70 observers including a small group of foreign journalists.

The former oil worker appealed, claiming he was simply a tourist who was framed.

Schellenberg was arrested in 2014 and received his original sentence in 2016 in a case that went unnoticed. However, the following month, the High People's Court of Liaoning Province ordered a retrial after prosecutors called for Schellenberg to receive a harsher punishment because of the emergence of new evidence which showed his involvement in an global drug smuggling syndicate. The court heard the appeal on December 29 and ordered a retrial in the lower court.

The court said it ruled Monday that Schellenberg was involved in an worldwide drug smuggling operation.

Schellenberg was told in court he has the right to appeal to Liaoning High Court within 10 days upon receiving the ruling, the court said in the second statement, adding that he was involved in organized worldwide drug crimes.

"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 arbitrarily apply [the] death penalty", he said.

He said a friend recommended a man named Xu Qing as a translator, and Schellenberg was swept up in what turned out to be an global drug trafficking syndicate. But Xu was presented as a witness by prosecutors.

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When pressed on details, he frequently said he could not remember and had to refer to a written statement, including when Schellenberg questioned him about 180,000 yuan he was purportedly given. His sentencing came during a one-day retrial on Monday.

The Chinese press began publicizing Schellenberg's case in December after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States.

One week later, two Canadian nationalswere detained in China on suspicion of "engaging in activities harming China's national security".

"He's become a pawn", his aunt Lauri Nelson-Jones told the New York Times.

On Friday, Donald Clarke, a specialist in Chinese law at George Washington University, said in a blog post that Schellenberg's case had several unusual features, including the delay in trial and sentencing, the rare decision for and extraordinary speed in scheduling a retrial, and invitations to global media to observe the case. Clarke pointed out that re-trials are generally a rare occurrence in China.

After the retrial, Schellenberg's lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said: "The sentence is very regretful". If found guilty she could be jailed for up to 30 years.

Former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, told the Globe and Mail that at least two Canadian citizens have previously been executed in China for drug crimes, despite objections from previous Canadian prime ministers.

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