A Canadian man sentenced to 15 years for drug smuggling in China has been quickly retried and given a death sentence in a move that may be a response to the legal tensions between China and Canada following the Dec. 1 arrest of the chief financial officer of tech company Huawei.
Canadian Robert Schellenberg was arrested in 2014 and convicted and sentenced to 15 years two months ago for conspiring to smuggle 489 pounds of amphetamine out of China. He denied the allegations and appealed the sentence.
Then in December, he was given only four days notice that he would be retried. The High Court of Liaoning Province, saying his initial sentence was not tough enough, then held another, much faster retrial and sentenced him to death. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman has said the court was within the bounds of local law in quickly retrying the case.
Legal experts told The Wall Street Journal that the retrial was likely linked to tensions following Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's arrest in Vancouver on Dec. 1. The U.S. government had sought to detain Meng on fraud charges related to deals made by the company with Iran, a sanctioned country. It's unclear, however, if Canada will extradite Meng to the U.S. to face these charges, as the Ottawa courts grapple with escalating diplomatic situation surrounding the arrest. As many as 13 Canadians have been arrested in China since Meng's arrest.