October 22, 2020
October 22, 2020

Canadian’s death sentence in China ‘horrific’, family says

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The family of a Canadian man who has been sentenced to death in China say their “worst fears” have been realised.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was given a 15-year jail term in November but, on Monday, a court said the sentence for drug smuggling was too lenient.

The ruling is likely to worsen a diplomatic row between the countries.

Last month, Canada arrested a top official at the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, Meng Wanzhou, on a request from the United States.

The detention of Ms Meng, 46, last month angered China and soured its relations with both Canada and the US.

Following Schellenberg’s death sentence, Canada has updated its travel advice for China, urging citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws”.

Schellenberg’s aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones said the death sentence was “a horrific, unfortunate, heartbreaking situation”.

“It is our worst case fear confirmed,” she added. “It is rather unimaginable what he must be feeling and thinking.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the ruling.

“It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply the death penalty,” he said in a statement.

China’s foreign ministry said it was “strongly dissatisfied” with Mr Trudeau’s remarks, and said Canada should respect China’s sovereignty.

Schellenberg has 10 days to launch an appeal and his lawyer told Reuters news agency that he would probably do so.

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