Canada and China ramp up war of words over Canadian’s death sentence

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"I find it extremely odd that the authorities could sit on a case for nearly three years, and then within two weeks find "new" evidence to suddenly sentence a man to death", said William Nee, China researcher for Amnesty International.

A Chinese court on Monday sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug smuggling, a ruling sure to aggravate already sour relations between Beijing and Ottawa following the arrest of a senior Chinese executive in Canada.

Schellenberg was first tried for drug smuggling in the Dalian court in March 2016 but it was not until more than two years later that the court handed down a verdict, convicting and jailing him for 15 years in November 2018, the Post report said.

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.

Ms. Meng's arrest on December 1 at Vancouver airport has been dragged into the tech- war between China and the United States, over 5G technology, of which Huawei is a well-established frontrunner.

The Liaoning High Court in late December ordered the case retried after prosecutors said the sentence was too light and improper.

Schellenberg and his lawyer then appealed that sentence but unfortunately for him, that meant risking a harsher sentence like the one he has received now.

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In this image taken from a video footage run by China's CCTV, Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg attends his retrial at the Dalian Intermediate People's Court in Dalian, northeastern China's Liaoning province on Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.

Schellenberg's family said in a statement after the ruling that they were asking all Canadians to "stand with us and pray for the safe return of our loved one".

In an opinion piece on January 9, the Chinese ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye effectively confirmed that the detention of two Canadian academics was in response to Meng's arrest, raising further questions around Schellenberg's case.

And despite the Canadian's insistence that he is innocent, his retrial lasted just a day, with his death sentence being announced barely an hour after its conclusion, our correspondent says.

The fate of the other two Canadians, who have been held in undisclosed locations, remains a mystery.

Canada has updated its travel advisory for China, warning its citizens about the risk of arbitrary enforcement of laws in the country - advice which has in turn been criticised in Beijing.

Trudeau should "respect the rule of law, respect China's judicial sovereignty, correct mistakes and stop making irresponsible remarks", foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the decision to execute the Schellenberg was "arbitrary", rallying allies to join Canada in its criticism.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities have reportedly detained ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor on charges of threatening national security.

"What's unusual is how this case shifted from extremely slow handling to suddenly rapid fire movement through the courts", said Margaret Lewis, a law professor at Seton Hall University.

"I think this is wrong".

"It is clear China wants the world to see what it is doing in this case". It added that Chinese people should approach travel to Canada with caution.

Chinese President Xi Jinping's government is sparing no expense to its global reputation in its determination to force Canada to back down over the case of a Chinese telecommunications executive it detained last month.

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