A Chinese court has convicted a Canadian man of drug trafficking and issued the death penalty.
The sentence comes following weeks of escalating diplomatic tensions stemming from the arrest of Huawei Technologies’s CFO Wanzhou Meng in Vancouver on December 1.
Thirty-six-year-old Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s new sentence was handed at an appeals court where prosecutors argued that his original sentence of 15 years was too light.
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The court alleged that there was new evidence implicating the Vancouver native’s role in an organized drug trafficking operation, according to The Washington Post.
Meanwhile, Western legal experts and Schellenberg’s relatives are claiming that China is using this case as a bargaining chip in its efforts to free Meng.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the matter of Schellenberg’s case is of “extreme concern.”
“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 a death penalty,” he told reporters on Monday.
PM Trudeau on report that China has sentenced a Cdn to death in drug smuggling case:
“It is of extreme concern to us as a govt—as it should be to all our intl friends and allies—that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply a death penalty” in case involving Cdn #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/wW67OrmAXv
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) January 14, 2019
Meng was arrested in Canada after being sought for extradition by the US.
In response to her arrest in December, Huawei said in a statement it was “not aware of any wrongdoing” by Meng and said it had been provided “very little information” on the incident, other than Meng being detained by Canadian authorities on behalf of the US when she was transferring flights in Canada.
The company said it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US, and EU.”
According to the report by the Post, The Dalian Intermediate People’s Court announced Schellenberg’s new sentence in an online statement detailing how the Canadian conspired with three others to pack more than 200 kilograms of methamphetamine in tires to ship to Australia.
However, the statement allegedly didn’t describe Schellenberg’s defence in which he had previously stated that he was framed.
The Canadian’s case is expected to be reviewed by higher courts before he is put to death.
Schellenberg was arrested in 2014, and was sentenced in 2018.