Canadian sentenced to death for drug trafficking

The conviction of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, could exacerbate the already strained diplomatic relations between Beijing and Ottawa.

The world with AFP Published today at 15h38

Time to Reading 2 min.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death on Monday 14 January by the Dalian court in northeastern China. CHINA STRINGER NETWORK / REUTERS

The decision should help alleviate diplomatic relations between Beijing and Ottawa. A Canadian was sentenced to death on January 14, in China, after his new drug trial.

Sentenced in the first instance in November to fifteen years in prison and 150,000 yuan (19,000 euros) of fines, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, filed an appeal at the end of 2018. But the move resulted in him, the high court from province of Liaoning (north-east), considering the verdict too lenient given the gravity of the facts.

During his new trial on Monday, the defendant again claimed his innocence all day in the Dalian court: "I am not a drug dealer, I came to China for a sightseeing tour." The court totally rejects the explanation and defense of the defendants, because they go against the facts "he said the judge issued a death sentence in a classroom full of policemen, where about 70 observers took place, including Canadian diplomats and foreign journalists. The accused can now appeal against this new sentence.

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222 kg of methamphetamine

The judges believe that Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, arrested in December 2014, played at "Key role" inside a gang involved in drug trafficking. According to Chinese prosecutors, this group plans to send 222 kg of methamphetamine to Australia, hidden in plastic balls hidden in tires. "Not content with spreading drugs in a country, the criminal organization has spread beyond the borders (…) It hurts human health and the stability of countries"said the court.

Mr. Schellenberg testified before the judges that he came to China after traveling to Laos, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand. He says that a friend advised a tourist translator – a Chinese named Xu Qing – and then he was involuntarily involved in an international drug trafficking circle. "This case is about Xu Qing, he's an international drug dealer and a liar"he said he was charged at the helm. According to him, the brain of the network is Khamla Wong, a Canadian arrested in 2016 in Thailand and suspected of drug trafficking.

"The Chinese courts are not independent"

The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs said it was following the case "Very close" and provide Mr. Schellenberg's consular assistance from his arrest. "It is clear that the Chinese courts are not independent" car "They can be influenced by the Chinese Communist Party" the ruling in the country, said before the announcement of the verdict William Nee, the human rights organization Amnesty International.

Asked at a regular press conference on Friday, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs had requested "Do not politicize judicial issues". The case comes when the diplomatic relations between China and Canada are already degraded by the arrest in early December of Canada – at the request of the United States – by Meng Wanzhou, the financial director of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. In the trial, China had arrested two Canadians: a former diplomat, Michael Kovrig, and a consultant, Michael Spavor. The Chinese authorities accuse them of having "National security threatened". These arrests are widely perceived in the West as retaliation measures.

Read the analysis: "The Huawei case touches the strategic rivalry between China and the United States"
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