BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese court held an appeal hearing Thursday for a Canadian who was sentenced to death for drug smuggling in a case that has deepened a diplomatic rift between the two countries.
The intermediate-level court in northeastern Liaoning province said Robert Schellenberg’s sentence would be announced at an unspecified date.
Convicted of playing a central role in a methamphetamine smuggling operation, Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years in November, only to be handed the death sentence at a hastily-scheduled January retrial.
That came after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, on a U.S. extradition warrant in December. Days later, two Canadians — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — were detained in China in apparent retaliation.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned Schellenberg’s sentencing in January and accused China of “arbitrarily” applying the death penalty.
Schellenberg, who was arrested in 2014, has maintained his innocence.
More than 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of methamphetamine were seized as part of Schellenberg’s case, the court said. It called the 36-year-old Canadian the “principal offender” and said the evidence presented was “true and sufficient.”
Canadian Embassy officials were notified and Schellenberg’s litigation rights were lawfully protected during Thursday’s proceedings, the court added. Continue Reading