China changes Canadian's prison sentence to death amid Huawei tensions

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg 36 was sentenced to death for drug smuggling. His sentencing came during a one-day retrial on Monday

Beijing has taken the unusual step of inviting selected foreign media to observe the retrial.

The former oil worker appealed, claiming he was simply a tourist who was framed. While he appealed the sentence, the effort backfired in December 2018, with the court ruling that his initial sentence was too lenient in light of the charges he'd been convicted of.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was detained in 2014. "In accordance with China's criminal law, the court found him guilty and sentenced him to death for drug trafficking and will confiscate all of his property".

"I would suggest the Canadian study the Vienna Convention before making such a comment, so as not to be inaccurate and make oneself a laughing stock", Hua said, in response to a question about Trudeau's remarks. They produced a witness, Xu Qing, to testify against the Canadian. "He is an global drug smuggler and a liar", The Post quoted Schellenberg telling the court.

Prosecutors presented Xu as a witness, who in almost two hours of testimony did not look at Schellenberg.

Two other Chinese men were involved in the case - one was sentenced to life in jail, while the other was given a suspended death sentence. Schellenberg told the court on Monday that he came to China after travelling through Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

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He was arrested along with Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor on vague national security allegations after a top Chinese executive with telecommunications network equipment giant Huawei was detained in Canada on December 1 at the request of Washington.

China denounced her arrest, warning of unspecified consequences unless Meng was released, and detained Michael Kovrig, a Canadian foreign ministry employee on unpaid leave, and Michael Spavor, a Canadian consultant, on suspicion of endangering state security.

"He's become a pawn", his aunt Lauri Nelson-Jones told the New York Times. The apparent weak evidence against the Canadian, the speed in scheduling a retrial, and China's invitation of the global press to cover the sentencing all indicate that the move could be retaliatory and aimed at gaining leverage over Ottawa. Clarke pointed out that re-trials are generally a rare occurrence in China.

Following news of Schellenberg's sentence, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a short public statement, saying: "It is of extreme concern to us as a govt-as it should be to all our intl friends and allies-that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply a death penalty... as in this case facing a Canadian".

China has not directly linked its arrest of the two Canadians with Meng's arrest in Canada. Foreigners have been executed before in China for drug smuggling including a Pakistani-British businessman in 2009 who some argued had been tricked into smuggling heroin.

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