The Latest: Trudeau: Chinese death sentence arbitrary
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is extremely concerned that China has chosen to “arbitrarily” apply the death penalty against a Canadian.
The comments are Trudeau’s strongest yet against China. The prime minister says he is “extremely concerned as should all countries around the world” that China is choosing to act arbitrarily with its justice system and with its choice not to respect longstanding practices regarding diplomatic immunity.
A Chinese court announced Monday that it had given Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg the death penalty on drug charges. The Chinese press began publicizing Schellenberg’s case in December after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States.
Since then, China has arrested two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest. It arrested both Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman, on suspicion of endangering national security.
A former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, believes the Chinese likely interrogated Kovrig about his time as a diplomat in China and that would break the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations. He says there is a notion of residual diplomatic immunity that means a country is not allowed to question someone on the work they did when they were a diplomat.
A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian man to death Monday in a sudden retrial in a drug smuggling case that is likely to escalate tensions between the countries over the arrest of a top Chinese technology executive.
The court in northeastern Liaoning province announced that it had given Robert Lloyd Schellenberg the death penalty after rejecting his plea of innocence and convicting him of being an accessory to drug smuggling. It gave no indication that the penalty could be commuted, but Schellenberg’s fate is likely to be drawn into diplomatic negotiations over China’s demand for the top executive’s release.
Schellenberg was detained more than four years ago and initially sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2016. But suddenly last month, an appeals court agreed with prosecutors who said the sentence was too lenient, and scheduled Monday’s retrial with just four days’ notice.
The Chinese press began publicizing Schellenberg’s case in December after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States.
Since then, China has arrested two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest.