Chinese court orders retrial for Canadian in drug case

Published December 30, 2018
The decision comes as Beijing and Ottawa remain embroiled in a diplomatic row triggered by Canada’s early December arrest of a senior executive from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. — File photo
The decision comes as Beijing and Ottawa remain embroiled in a diplomatic row triggered by Canada’s early December arrest of a senior executive from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. — File photo

BEIJING: A Chinese court said on Saturday that a 15-year jail sentence for a Canadian national charged with drug smuggling was too “lenient” and remanded his case for a retrial.

The decision comes as Beijing and Ottawa remain embroiled in a diplomatic row triggered by Canada’s early December arrest of a senior executive from Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

The high court in Liaoning, which heard Robert Lloyd Schellenberg’s appeal on Saturday, said in a statement that a previous ruling in November, which sentenced him to 15 years in jail and a 150,000 yuan ($21,800) forfeiture, was “obviously inappropriate” given the severity of his crimes.

Schellenberg played an “important role” in drug smuggling and was potentially involved in international organised drug trafficking activities, said the court, and passed his case back to the lower Dalian court for a retrial without specifying a date.

The high court in Liaoning did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.

China exercises a zero-tolerance policy towards drug trafficking, and has handed death sentences to foreigners found guilty of smuggling large quantities of illicit drugs.

A harsher punishment for Schellenberg, such as the death penalty, could further strain ties between Beijing and Ottawa.

The two countries are in diplomatic dire straits after China detained two Cana­dians — former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and China-based businessman Michael Spavor — whom they accuse of engaging in activities that “endanger China’s security”.

Though no link has been officially made, the arrests seem to be in retaliation to Canada’s Dec 1 arrest of Meng Wanzhou, a top executive at Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. She was detained on a request from the United States, which has accused her of violating sanctions of Iran.

Read more:After Wanzhou's arrest, what lies next for Huawei?

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2018

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