A Chinese court rejected the appeal of Canadian citizen Robert Schellenberg, sentenced to death for drug trafficking. Schellenberg was arrested in December 2014 and charged with drug trafficking in January 2015 for smuggling 225 kilograms of methamphetamine, a crime for which he has always pleaded innocent. In 2018, Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison, but in 2019, following his appeal, his case was reopened based on new evidence and the Canadian was sentenced to the death penalty. The High Court of the People of the Province of Liaoning, in confirming the death sentence in Schellenberg, added that “the facts in the original trial were clear and the evidence reliable and sufficient”. His case was referred to the Supreme Court for review, as is the case with death sentences.
The review of Schellenberg’s case, but especially the arrests of two other Canadian citizens in China accused of espionage – former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor – have contributed to the deterioration of relations between Canada and China. The arrest of the “two Michael”, in December 2018, took place a few days after the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei’s financial director, Meng Wanzhou, at the request of the United States, which is asking for his extradition. Meng is now on trial in Canada and cannot leave the country, while Kovrig and Spavor ended up on trial behind closed doors last March in China.
According to Canadian broadcaster CBC, a verdict on Spavor is expected by the end of this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow, while there are still no clear indications regarding a verdict for Kovrig. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden condemned the detention of Kovrig and Spavor in China in a phone call last week, and Biden pledged US support for Canada to secure their release. .