A court in China has awarded a death sentence to a Canadian over charges of drug smuggling. This move is probably going to worsen the already brewing tension between Ottawa and Beijing. Monday’s ruling comes weeks after Canada detained a top official of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, on the behest of United States.
On Monday, the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in northeastern China stated that Robert Lloyd Schellenberg is being awarded death sentence depending on the nature and seriousness of his crime and as per the Chinese criminal code. Initially, in 2018, Robert was given a 15-year jail term but after a petition the courts stated that the sentence awarded to Robert was benign. However, Canada has criticized the latest ruling.
Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister condemned the ruling. The relation among the two nations has become fraught since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei’s founder. Even though Meng was granted bail, since Meng’s arrest China has arrested two Canadian nations, charging them to a threat to the national security of China.
Robert was consigned to Dalian by drug traffickers to smuggle more than 222 kilograms (489.4 pounds) of methamphetamine from the Chinese port city to Australia. According to the prosecution, Robert along with his aide purchased tools and tires in order to repackage the drugs before transporting them in containers. However, Robert’s aide informed the police every details of drug going to be smuggled. Later on Schellenberg was arrested from southern China on 1st December 2014, while trying to escape to Thailand.
Before the court ruling was announced, Schellenberg claimed his innocence and stated he came to China as a tourist. However, the court announced that Robert will get 10 days to appeal against the judgment. Schellenberg’s family urged the Canadian government to help them in this situation.
China seriously punishes those who are caught smuggling or peddling drugs, which includes even foreigners. If any person is found with over 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of a controlled substance it can lead to death penalty.