BEIJING – A Chinese court issued on Monday the death penalty in the trial of a convicted Canadian drug trafficker, a punishment designed to escalate China's diplomatic struggle with Canada and the United States.
The new sentence of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg came after a court of appeal this month in connection with prosecutors claiming that his original sentence of 15 years was too light, as new evidence on the role of the 36-year-old in an organized drug trafficking operation close.
The case was condemned by Western legal experts and Schellenberg's relatives, who say that China uses Schellenberg as a negotiating tool for the release of a top technology company detained in Canada. Huawei's Chief Financial Officer, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested on December 1 at the request of the United States at Vancouver Airport. She wants her extradition to be charged with fraud.
The Dalian Intermediate People's Court issued a brief statement announcing Schellenberg's new punishment on its website that it would provide more details later.
Schellenberg was arrested in 2014 and received his original sentence in 2016 in a case that was not noticed. The case resurfaced this month as the Chinese government took the rare step of inviting foreign media to its hearing. This led to speculation that Beijing wanted to use Schellenberg's case to put pressure on Ottawa.
China has expressed indignation over Meng's arrest and his statement warned Canada "serious consequences" if it were not released.
In the weeks following their seizure, Chinese authorities arrested two Canadians living in China on suspicion of national security offenses.