Canadian who was sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking will appeal against conviction, source says
- Robert Lloyd Schellenberg will plead for his life at court tomorrow in Liaoning
- Schellenberg’s case has deepened diplomatic rift between Beijing and Canada
- Appeal comes amid anger over December arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou
- Trudeau previously accused China of ‘arbitrarily’ applying the death penalty
A Canadian man handed the death penalty for drug smuggling in China will appeal his sentence Thursday, in a case that has deepened the diplomatic rift between Beijing and Canada.
The appeal comes against the backdrop of Beijing’s anger over the December arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei, who faces a US extradition hearing in Canada on Wednesday.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death on drug trafficking charges in January.
Mr Schellenberg was initially sentenced 15 years in prison last year, but a high court deemed the decision ‘too lenient’ and gave him the death penalty in an open hearing on January 14
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the decision as ‘arbitrarily’ chosen.
Schellenberg’s appeal will take place Thursday morning at the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in northeastern Liaoning province, a source familiar with the case told AFP.
The Dalian court declined to comment. The provincial level Liaoning High People’s Court did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.
The appeal comes against the backdrop of Beijing’s anger over the December arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei, who faces a US extradition hearing in Canada on Wednesday
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death on drug trafficking charges in January
‘Canada remains extremely concerned that China has chosen to apply the death penalty, a cruel and inhumane punishment,’ Canadian foreign ministry spokeswoman Brittany Fletcher said in an email to AFP.
Canadian officials plan to attend Thursday’s hearing.
‘Canada has requested, and will continue to seek, clemency for Mr Schellenberg,’ she said.
Schellenberg was originally sentenced to 15 years in prison and a 150,000-yuan ($22,000) forfeiture in November.
But following an appeal, the high court in Liaoning ruled in December that the sentence was too lenient given the severity of his crimes.
About a month later, his sentence was changed to capital punishment.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is pictured addressing the media in Ottawa in January. He said he was concerned that China had chosen to ‘arbitrarily’ apply death penalty to a Canadian
China has executed foreigners for drug-related crimes in the past, including a Japanese national in 2014, a Filipina in 2013, and a Briton in 2009.
Last week, another Canadian, Fan Wei, was sentenced to death for drug trafficking in a separate case in southern China.
Schellenberg’s case is seen as potential leverage for Meng, who was arrested on a US extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations – a link that Beijing has repeatedly denied.
Following the Huawei executive’s arrest in December, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, in what observers saw as retaliation.
Schellenberg’s appeal will take place Thursday morning at the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court (pictured) in northeastern Liaoning province, a source familiar with the case told AFP
Days after Canada launched the extradition process against Meng in March, China announced it suspected Kovrig of spying and stealing state secrets. It alleged fellow Canadian Spavor had provided him with intelligence.
Both men have been denied access to lawyers and allowed only monthly consular visits.
Meng is free on bail in Vancouver as the extradition process continues.
The diplomatic row appears to have has spilled over into the economic arena: China has banned Canadian canola shipments worth billions of dollars.
Beijing has punished other countries with trade sanctions over diplomatic spats in the past.