China sentences Canadian man to death in drug smuggling case

China: Detained Canadian does not have diplomatic immunity

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

A Canadian accused of smuggling drugs into China has been handed a death sentence after a one-day retrial.

Chinese officials have suggested that Schellenberg's case is not related to the arrests of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor last month or the arrest in Canada of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Ms Meng, 46, is the daughter of Huawei's founder and her detention has angered China and soured its relations with both Canada and the US.

China has since detained two Canadian nationals, accusing them of endangering national security.

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.

Schellenberg was detained in 2014 and initially sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2016 on charges of being an accessory to drug smuggling.

He appealed against the sentence to the Liaoning High People's Court, where prosecutors argued the sentence was too lenient. "Schellenberg could, for example, be sentenced to death with a two-year suspension. I came to China as a tourist", Schellenberg, said in his final statement before the sentence was announced.

"If the Chinese government has an innocent explanation for all the unusual features of this case, I hope it will provide it".

Ottawa said it was following the case "very closely" and has provided Schellenberg with consular assistance. The retrial on Monday was attended by about 70 observers including a small group of foreign journalists.

Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on December 1 at the request of the United States, raising tensions between Canada and China.

In what is believed to be a retaliation to Meng's arrest, Chinese authorities detained former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who now works for a foreign think tank, and businessman Michael Spavor days later.

Beijing has repeatedly denied any diplomatic pressure behind Schellenberg's case.

Lu Kang, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson. 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.

In 2014, a Japanese national sentenced in Dalian was put to death for drug offences, according to Tokyo diplomats and media reports.

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