A Chinese court on Tuesday rejected an appeal from a Canadian sentenced to death for drug smuggling — an increased sentence that was suddenly imposed in early 2019 after prominent Chinese businesswoman Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada. That reports AP.
The ruling, which means that Robert Schellenberg will remain sentenced to the death penalty, comes at an all-time low in Canada-China relations. The two countries are in conflict over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, financial chief of Chinese tech giant Huawei, at Vancouver airport in December 2018.
Meng, daughter of influential Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is going through a lawsuit in Canada over extradition to the United States. US authorities accuse her of fraud and violation of sanctions against Iran. She denies those allegations and is fighting her extradition in Vancouver. China is furious with Canada over its situation.
Schellenberg was arrested in December 2014 and charged shortly after with drug smuggling. In November 2018, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, in January 2019, after Meng Wanzhou’s arrest, he was abruptly retried and sentenced to death.
Also read: China uses ‘the two Michaels’ as pawns in conflict over Huawei
Schellenberg appealed that verdict, a case heard in May last year. That appeal was dismissed on Tuesday. The Chinese Supreme Court has yet to uphold the verdict.
Two other Canadians, former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor, were arrested in China shortly after Meng’s arrest and charged with espionage, apparently to pressure Canada to release Meng. They are known as the ‘two Michaels’ and are seen as pawns in a Chinese hostage diplomacy.
A verdict in Spavor’s case is expected in the coming days, according to sources. Meng’s extradition process is expected to come to a conclusion this summer.