A Chinese court has upheld the death penalty in the case of Canadian national Robert Schellenberg who was detained in China in a drug case in 2014.
The Higher People’s Court of Liaoning Province rejected Schellenberg’s appeal and said in a statement Monday the sentence was appropriate and the lower court’s procedures legal. It sent the case to the Chinese supreme court for review.
Schellenberg was detained by Chinese authorities in December 2014, and was formally charged with drug smuggling in January 2015. His initial 15-year verdict on drug smuggling charges was overturned and a death sentence was issued in January 2019 following a retrial.
The next and final step in the Chinese legal process is a mandatory review by the Supreme People’s Court.
Throughout his time in detention, Canadian consular officials have been granted consular access to Schellenberg — although no consular access was granted from Jan. to Oct. last year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has previously condemned the death sentencing, saying China has “arbitrarily” applied the death penalty to this case.
Schellenberg has maintained his innocence.
Justin Trudeau calls death sentence for Canadian in China arbitrary
Meanwhile, a verdict is also expected this week for Michael Spavor, one of the two Michaels who were detained in China for over two and a half years, a source with direct knowledge told Global News.
Spavor will either be innocent or guilty. He along with Michael Kovrig was detained in China in December 2018 just days after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver by RCMP at the behest of American authorities.
The U.S. has charged Meng with violating sanctions on doing business with Iran and other counts of corporate espionage, and is seeking her extradition. Meng and Huawei, along with Beijing, have denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
While China has denied that Kovrig and Spavor’s arrests were a retaliatory measure, officials have also suggested that the pair could be released if Meng is allowed to return home to China and the case against her is dropped. Canada has refused to entertain such an exchange.
— With files from the Associated Press
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