Canadian drug smuggler faces harsh call in retrial

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 11 Jan 2019

A Canadian man who was sentenced in north China to 15 years in prison for drug smuggling goes into a retrial next week, which is likely to end with him being handed a harsher sentence and further strain ties between Beijing and Ottawa.

The Dalian Intermediate People's Court announced yesterday that Robert Lloyd Schellenberg's new trial starts on Monday morning, but no further details were provided.

China exercises a zero-tolerance policy towards drug trafficking and has handed death sentences to foreigners found guilty of smuggling large quantities of illicit drugs.

The case comes as Beijing and Ottawa remain embroiled in a diplomatic row triggered by Canada's arrest on December 1 of a senior executive of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, who the United States wants extradited.

In what observers see as an act of retaliation, China later detained two Canadians - a former diplomat and a business consultant - on suspicion of engaging in activities that "endangered" national security.

In a previous ruling in November, Schellenberg was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a 150,000 yuan (HK$179,000) forfeiture.

But a higher court in northeastern Liaoning province, which presided over Schellenberg's appeal attempt last December, called the sentencing "obviously inappropriate" given the severity of his crimes.

Schellenberg played "an important role" in drug smuggling and was potentially involved in international organized drug trafficking activities, it said.

On other foreigners being executed for such crimes, it has been noted that in 2014 a Japanese national who was also convicted in Dalian was put to death for drug offenses.

A Chinese court also sentenced a Filipina drug trafficker to death in 2013.

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