Canadian's death sentence in China 'horrific', family says

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Prosecutors told the court that they "now have evidence that highly suggests Schellenberg was involved in organised global drug crime", China's central television broadcaster said in an online report. "Beijing will have to answer to the world why this particular case against a citizen of this particular country had to be retried at this particular moment".

The ruling will further strain an already tense relationship with Canada in the wake of the December 1 arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, at the request of the United States.

Hua said the allegation that China arbitrarily detained Canadian citizens is "totally groundless".

Schellenberg had been prepared for more severe punishment, so he maintained a calm demeanour in court, Zhang said.

Schellenberg can appeal against the sentence in an upper court.

In late December, a Dalian court bolstered his charge to global drug trafficking, deemed his punishment to be too light, and called for a retrial.

At Schellenberg's appeal hearing last month, prosecutors said that emerging evidence indicated he had played a bigger role in a drug trafficking network and so his initial sentence was too light.

China has since detained two Canadian nationals, accusing them of endangering national security.

"The fact that he is a Canadian, combined with the welcoming of foreign media to view court proceedings, makes it downright suspicious", Margaret Lewis, a law professor at Seton Hall University, told The Washington Post Monday.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was initially arrested in China in 2014.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, believed to be 36, was arrested in 2014 and accused of planning to smuggle nearly 227kg of methamphetamine into China.

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"As it should be to all our global friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty, as in this case facing a Canadian".

Schellenberg's aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones, said the family is awaiting any news regarding an appeal.

Schellenberg's conviction and sentencing came amid worsening diplomatic tensions between the two countries after Canadian police detained top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on December 1.

She was granted bail by a Canadian court several days later but remains under constant surveillance and must wear an electronic ankle tag.

A senior Canadian government official said Chinese officials have been questioning Kovrig about his diplomatic work in China, which is a major reason why Trudeau is asserting diplomatic immunity.

A Chinese person convicted of involvement in the same operation as Schellenberg received a suspended death sentence earlier.

He told The Associated Press that "it's hard not to see a link" between the case and Canada's arrest of Meng.

China's ambassador to Canada accused the country last week of "white supremacy" in calling for the release of the two Canadians while describing the detentions as an "act of self-defence".

Canada briefly detained Meng before allowing her to await extradition to the USA in a multi-million dollar home she owns in the country.

On Friday, Poland arrested a Huawei director and one of its own former cyber security experts, charging them with spying for China.

"The trial will also send the message that China won't yield to outside pressure in implementing its law", it said.