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China upholds the death sentence for Robert Lloyd Schellenberg

On Tuesday, the Liaoning High People’s Court decided to uphold the death sentence handed down to Canadian smuggler Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, refusing to fulfil his appeal. The court described how “the first trial was clear, the evidence was true and sufficient.”

Schellenberg’s death sentence was first issued in 2019 after he smuggled over 222 kilograms of methamphetamine from the Chinese port, Dalian, to Australia in 2014. The prosecution states Schellenberg and his accomplice brought tools to help repackage the drugs before they got shipped in containers. Schellenberg fled Dalian and was arrested in Southern China on 1 December 2014. In March 2016, he was first tried and later convicted in November 2018. Schellenberg was sentenced to 15 years in prison, however, in December 2018, new evidence proved his prime role in the smuggling. This resulted in a death sentence for him.

The Chinese court emphasized that “the conviction was accurate [and] the sentence was appropriate.” Despite this, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs stated Canada “strongly condemns” the court’s behaviour and believed the sentence to be “arbitrary.” The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, also criticised the court’s ruling back in 2019, claiming the situation was “of extreme concern.”

Schellenberg’s sentence is believed to be a demonstration of the diplomatic rift between Ottawa and Beijing. The Canadian ambassador, Dominic Barton, has “expressed [Canada’s] strong opposition to this cruel and inhumane punishment to China repeatedly” but to no avail. The political tension continues to rise following the arrest of Meng Wanzhou in Canada in December 2018. Wanzhou was a top executive of Chinese telecoms and was put on a US warrant. China arrested two Canadians on spying charges in return, further deteriorating Canadian-Chinese relations.

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Melody Chan

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December 2021
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