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16 Jan, 2019 11:48

Canada asks China clemency for its national sentenced to death for drug trafficking

Canada asks China clemency for its national sentenced to death for drug trafficking

Ottawa has asked Beijing to spare the life of its citizen, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who was sentenced to death by a Chinese court for smuggling a large volume of drugs into the country.

“We have already spoken with China’s ambassador to Canada and requested clemency,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on Tuesday. She said that Ottawa believes the death penalty is “inhumane and inappropriate,” and it always seeks to protect its citizens from capital punishment.

Schellenberg was slapped with the harshest possible punishment for drug smuggling on Monday. The Canadian was accused of smuggling more than 200kg of methamphetamine into China. He was arrested back in 2015 and sentenced last year to 15 years behind bars, as well as a fine of some $22,000.

On Monday, however, Schellenberg’s sentence was upgraded to capital punishment, as his appeal backfired badly. The harsher punishment was required since the evidence indicated that the Canadian “was involved in organized international drug crime,” according to prosecutors.

The new verdict was blasted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who said the Chinese court’s decision was “arbitrary” and “extremely concerning.” Canada also updated its travel advisory regarding China, urging its citizens to exercise a “high degree of caution” before going there, Freeland stated.

Beijing has brushed off the international outcry over Schellenberg’s case as insignificant.

“I can very clearly state that we are not worried in the slightest,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stated, adding that Canada’s “so-called allies could be counted on 10 fingers,” and their opinion does not actually represent the stance of the international community. The death penalty for the Canadian national has been criticized by the UN, as well as several countries, including Australia.

Also on rt.com China warns of ‘serious consequences’ if Canada doesn't release detained Huawei executive

The Schellenberg affair has become the most recent flashpoint in relations between Canada and China, which have rapidly deteriorated over the past few weeks. Early in December, Canada detained a top executive of Chinese tech giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, on a US-issued arrest warrant. A few days later, Beijing detained two Canadians on suspicion of endangering state security.

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