01/16/2019, 09.34
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Ottawa asks for clemency for a Canadian sentenced to death. The 'political' judgments of Beijing

by Wang Zhicheng

Schellenberg - accused of drug dealing - was sentenced in the first instance to 15 years, with a trial that took place 4 years after his arrest. The appeals trial was prepared in a few days and the death sentence issued in a day. The evidence presented is very weak. It is suspected that China wants to blackmail Canada for the arrest of Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Canadian Foreign Ministry has today asked Beijing for clemency for one of its citizens condemned to death for drug trafficking. The man, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, 36, was sentenced to death yesterday in a review of his trial. Last November he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. The timing and speed of the ruling suggests that China wants to blackmail Canada for the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the financial director of Huawei.

Meng had been arrested at the request of the United States, which accuses her of violating US sanctions against Iran and Syria. La Meng, now free on bail, risks being extradited to the US, where she risks a 15-year sentence.

In the economic and diplomatic tug of war, Beijing had already arrested two Canadians: Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a financial consultant, accused of being "a threat to national security".

Schellenberg's death sentence - which has always denied the accusations against him - allows a look at the way in which Chinese justice is exercised, after President Xi Jinping promised to make China a country where the rule of law applies .

Several Chinese lawyers criticize the sentence. Attorney Ma Gangquan points out that the Canadian - accused of having trafficked over 200kg of drugs, had been arrested in December 2014. It took four years to reach a first sentence, in November 2018 in Dalian, where he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and 150 thousand yuan (about 19 thousand euros) in fines.

But Schellenberg appealed in December 2018. The Court of the Liaoning Province judged the verdict to be "lenient" and last December 29 asked the Dalian court to revise the sentence. In this case, it took only four days to set up the appeal process and one day, January 14, to issue the sentence: that of death.

Schellenberg's defense attorney, Zhang Dongshuo, points out  it is rather strange that an appeal sentence is heavier than the in the first instance. Normally the opposite occurs.

According to John Kamm of the Duihua Foundation, which deals with human rights, from 2009 to 2015 China executed 19 death foreigners for drug related offences.

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