Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg has been sentenced to death for drug smuggling in China by a decision that will exacerbate diplomatic discord between the two countries.
Last year, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison, but after an appeal, the court said the sentence was too lenient.
Today’s ruling comes weeks after Canada arrested Meng Wangzhou, the head of giant telecommunications giant Huawei, at the request of the United States.
Canada condemned the latest decision.
The Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau said: “We as a government, as for all our international friends and allies, are very concerned that China has decided to start arbitrarily applying the death penalty, as in this case before the Canadian.”
China has angered the arrest of 46-year-old Meng Wangzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder, and the case has damaged relations with both Canada and the United States. In December, she received bail.
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Since then, China has detained two Canadian citizens, accusing them of threatening national security.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who is believed to be 36, was arrested in 2014 and charged with plotting to smuggle nearly 500 pounds of methamphetamine from China to Australia.
In November 2018, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, after an appeal on January 14, the Supreme Court of the city of Dalian in the northeast sentenced a Canadian citizen to death.
The court also ruled that all of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s financial assets should be confiscated.
“I am not a drug smuggler. I came to China as a tourist. “ he said just before the verdict was announced, the AFP news agency reported.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg has 10 days to appeal.
China denies using its legal system to take hostages as coins in the Huawei case.
Maine Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on December 1, but a few days later a Canadian court was released on bail.
A judge in Vancouver ruled that Meng Wangzhou would be under surveillance 24 hours a day and should wear an electronic tag on his ankle.
Meng Wangzhou is accused in the US of using a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom to evade sanctions against Iran between 2009 and 2014.
She denies any wrongdoing and says she will challenge the charges.
President Donald Trump has said he is ready to intervene.
Meng Wangzhou’s arrest came amid a growing trade dispute between the United States and China.