By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) - Diplomatic relations between China and Canada deteriorated further Monday after a Chinese court overruled an earlier decision and sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug smuggling.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg filed an appeal, saying he was a tourist and was duped by criminals after he was sentenced to 15 years at an earlier trial for smuggling methamphetamines.
But Canada arrested Huawei senior executive Meng Wanzhou last month at the request of the U.S. government who wanted her to face fraud charges there. She is out on bail in Vancouver while awaiting an extradition hearing.
The arrest incensed China that called for her to be released.
Chinese authorities called for a retrial for Schellenberg last month, declaring the 15-year sentence was too lenient and Monday the court in northeast China ordered the death sentence.
Prosecutors told the court new evidence “highly suggests Schellenberg was involved in an organized international drug crime.” The retrial lasted one day.
Before the retrial, Schellenberg’s family expressed concern he would become a bargaining chip in a bid to have Meng released.
“He’s become a pawn,” said his aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones.
As well, since Meng’s arrest, two Canadians have been detained in China and charged with “endangering national security” although no details of the exact nature of the charges have been announced. The two Canadians are in secret detention.
Canadian officials have not yet commented on the Schellenberg sentence.