Michael Kovrig, Detained Canadian Ex-Diplomat, Does Not Have Immunity: China

Chinese police officers stand guard outside the Canadian embassy in Beijing

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian citizen arrested in China in 2014, was sentenced to death by the Dalian Intermediate People's Court over drug smuggling accusations, CBC reported, citing a statement by the court.

A new trial was ordered and took place Monday, in China's Liaoning province, with Schellenberg being found guilty and given a death sentence.

Since Meng's arrest, China has detained two more Canadians - Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur - on vague allegations that they threaten Chinese national security.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 150,000 yuan (US$22,000) in November last year for smuggling more than 200kg of methamphetamine in China.

Zhang said he argued in the one-day trial Monday that there was insufficient evidence to prove Schellenberg's involvement in the drug smuggling operation, nor had prosecutors introduced new evidence to justify a heavier sentence.

The ruling has deepened a rift between China and Canada, with the sentence coming on the back of China's discontent with Canada's arrest of a top executive from Chinese telecom giant Huawei in December on a USA extradition request related to alleged violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

In response to her arrest in December, Huawei said in a statement it was "not aware of any wrongdoing" by Meng and said it had been provided "very little information" on the incident, other than Meng being detained by Canadian authorities on behalf of the United States when she was transferring flights in Canada.

On Monday morning, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented strongly on the matter, expressing "extreme concern" over the case.

Evidence obtained by the investigators "suggests Schellenberg was involved in organized global drug crime", the prosecution argued.

Beijing has repeatedly denied any diplomatic pressure behind Schellenberg's case.

While Canada has abolished the death penalty, in China some drug-related crimes are frequently met with capital punishment.

In rapid succession following the Huawei executive's arrest, two Canadian citizens were detained in China on charges of endangering national security.

China had warned Canada of "grave consequences" if Meng wasn't released immediately.

Schellenberg, who was reportedly detained in northeast Liaoning province in 2014, is accused of playing an important role in drug smuggling and of potential involvement in global organised crime.

China is known for handing out harsh sentences for drug crimes including the death penalty when substantial amounts of illicit substances are involved.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said that Michael Kovrig, who's on leave from the Canadian foreign service, wasn't entitled to diplomatic immunity.

The death sentence was quickly condemned by rights groups.

Ansley eventually closed his practice in China in the early 2000s due to different factors, among them the fact that foreigners had no chance of winning cases against the Chinese side. "I am a normal person".

In an opinion piece on January 9, the Chinese ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye effectively confirmed that the detention of two Canadian academics was in response to Meng's arrest, raising further questions around Schellenberg's case. China "promised retaliation" for the move, inflaming relations between the country and Canada, The Globe and Mail reports.



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