Chinese court hands death sentence to Canadian amid Huawei CFO row

Chinese court hands death sentence to Canadian amid Huawei CFO row

A Canadian man originally given 15 years in prison for drug smuggling was sentenced to death in China on Monday after a one-day retrial, the surprising verdict coming amid growing tensions between Beijing and Ottowa after the arrest of a top Chinese tech executive last month.

The sentence comes against the backdrop of the Chinese government´s anger over the arrest in Canada of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei last month on a United States extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.

Schellenberg has 10 days to appeal the sentence, according to his lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo.

The two countries have been at odds since the arrest of Huawei Technologies chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver in December on suspicion of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

At Schellenberg's appeal hearing last month, prosecutors said that emerging evidence indicated he had played a bigger role in a drug trafficking network and so his initial sentence was too light.

He says Canada will do all it can to intervene on Robert Lloyd Schellenberg's behalf.

"It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our global friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply (the) death penalty.as in this case", Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.

In the weeks following her seizure, Chinese authorities detained two Canadians living in China on suspicion of national security crimes.

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The court on Monday said Schellenberg had an "extremely large" negative impact on China and was a "core member" of an global drug ring.

Trudeau's statement suggested Kovrig carried a diplomatic passport while on his sabbatical - which is possible if authorised by Canada's foreign ministry - but Hua said he was in China on an ordinary travel document with a business visa.

"China is going to face lots of questions about why this particular person, of this particular nationality, had to be retried at this particular time", Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch's China director, told Reuters.

Some foreign experts have said China's swift action in all three cases appeared meant to pressure Canada to free Meng and return her to China, rather than sending her to the United States.

"The court will later announce more detailed information on the trial", Xinhua said.

In his opening statement on Monday, Schellenberg said he had gone to China after travelling through Southeast Asia, including Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. It said he was recruited to help smuggle more than 488 pounds of methamphetamine from a warehouse in Dalian city to Australia. But Schellenberg said he was unwittingly recruited into the scheme by Xu, reported Agence France-Presse, one of three foreign news outlets allowed into the court.

The Chinese foreign ministry said Friday critics "can stop recklessly suspecting others of politicising legal issues just because they have done so".

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