Canadian sentenced to death in China

A court in China has upheld the death sentence of Canadian narcotics trafficker Robert Schellenberg. The man was arrested in 2014 for drug smuggling. Only the Supreme People’s Court in China can still overturn the sentence in the last instance.

The original sentence of 15 years in prison was later changed to a death sentence after the arrest in Canada of Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of the company’s founder Meng Wanzhou. The daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei is accused of bank fraud in the U.S. in connection with sanctions violations against Iran. A trial is now underway in Canada to decide whether to extradite the businesswoman to the US.

Accusations of “hostage diplomacy”
Since Meng Wanzhou’s detention, two other Canadians have been held in China. Reason enough for Ottawa to accuse the government in Beijing of “hostage diplomacy.” Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor are facing espionage charges. Canadian media, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that Spavor can expect to be sentenced this week.

“It’s no coincidence that these verdicts are being handed down right now,” Canadian Ambassador to China Dominic Barton told Reuters news agency. Amid diplomatic tensions, governments have called on each other to release detained compatriots.

In the People’s Republic, the usual penalties for drug smuggling are long prison sentences or the death penalty. At least two death sentences have been handed down to foreigners in recent years – Chinese courts have a 99 percent execution rate.