By Gerry Shih Gerry Shih China Correspondent Email Bio Follow January 14 at 8:12 AM BEIJING — A Chinese court issued the death penalty on Monday in the retrial of a convicted Canadian drug trafficker, a sentence that is expected to sharply escalate China’s diplomatic row with Canada and the United States.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s new sentence comes after an appeals court this month sided with prosecutors who argued that his original sentence of 15 years was too light given new evidence implicating the 36-year old’s role in an organized drug trafficking operation.
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The case has been condemned by Western legal experts and Schellenberg’s relatives, who say that China is using Schellenberg as a bargaining chip in its efforts to free a top technology executive detained in Canada. Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested at the Vancouver airport on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States, which wants her extradited to face fraud charges.
The Dalian Intermediate People’s Court announced Schellenberg’s new sentence in a brief statement on its website, saying it would provide more details later.
Schellenberg was arrested in 2014 and received his original sentence in 2016 in a case that went unnoticed. The case resurfaced this month, when the Chinese government took the rare step of inviting foreign media to attend his appeal hearing — prompting speculation that Beijing wanted to use Schellenberg’s case to exert pressure on Ottawa.
China has expressed outrage at Meng’s arrest and has warned Canada of “severe consequences” if she were not released
In the weeks following her seizure, Chinese authorities detained two Canadians living in China on suspicion of national security crimes.
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