Canadian sentenced to death by a Chinese court as diplomatic tension raises

Canadian sentenced to death by a Chinese court as diplomatic tension raises

A Chinese court on Monday sentenced a Canadian man to be executed for drug smuggling, prompting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to accuse China of using the death penalty arbitrarily. 

The ruling, and Trudeau's reaction, could aggravate already sour relations between Beijing and Ottawa following the arrest of a senior Chinese executive in Canada and China's subsequent detention of two Canadians. 

 The Dalian Intermediate People's Court in China's northeast province of Liaoning re-tried Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who had appealed his original 15-year prison sentence, and decided on execution, the court said in a statement. 

Schellenberg was told in court he had the right to appeal to Liaoning high court within 10 days upon receiving the ruling, the intermediate court said. 

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

 Bilateral ties turned icy in early December after Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, was arrested in Vancouver on a US extradition warrant. 

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.

Beijing has not drawn a direct link between the arrest of Meng, wanted by US authorities for allegedly misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions, and the detention of Spavor and Kovrig. 

Western diplomats in Beijing, however, say the cases are a tit-for-tat reprisal.

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