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Canadian in China receives death sentence in drug smuggling case

Canada will do all it can to intervene on Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s behalf after the Canadian was sentenced to death in a Chinese courtroom.

That was the message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, saying he’s very concerned to see China “acting arbitrarily” by applying the death penalty.

Schellenberg was detained in China during 2014 and sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2016 on charges of being an accessory to drug smuggling.

The court said it found that Schellenberg was involved in an international drug-smuggling operation and was recruited to help smuggle more than 222 kilograms of methamphetamine from a warehouse in Dalian city to Australia.

Despite being sentenced in 2016, Schellenberg was sent back to trial and re-sentenced on Monday, this time to the death penalty.

“All I can really say at this moment is, it is our worst case fear confirmed. Our thoughts are with Robert at this time,” said Schellenberg’s aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones. “It is rather unimaginable what he must be feeling and thinking. It is a horrific, unfortunate, heartbreaking situation.”

According to Schellenberg’s lawyer, there is insufficient evidence to implicate the Canadian involvement in the operation and no new evidence had been introduced to justify a heavier sentence.

The situation is not without precedent, in 2009 English national Akmal Shaikh was executed on charges of smuggling heroin despite his supporters’ protest that he was mentally ill.

A Chinese person convicted of involvement in the same operation as Schellenberg received a suspended death sentence earlier.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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