Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

China Says Detained Ex-Canadian Diplomat Has No Diplomatic Immunity

Michael Kovrig Michael Kovrig is shown in this undated handout
Kenny Thornton | 14 January, 2019, 18:37

A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian man to death Monday in a sudden retrial in a drug smuggling case that is likely to escalate tensions between the countries over the arrest of a top Chinese technology executive.

Schellenberg, a Canadian drug smuggler, was sentenced to death at the Dalian Intermediate People's Court in northeast China's Liaoning Province, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Monday night.

The sentence comes against the backdrop of the Chinese government´s anger over the arrest in Canada of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei last month on a USA extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.

After the retrial, Schellenberg's lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said: "The sentence is very regretful".

Bilateral ties turned icy in early December after Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], was arrested in Vancouver on a USA extradition warrant. But at his hearing in late December, prosecutors argued that his initial sentence was too lenient.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was detained in 2014.

"It is unfortunate that China has arbitrarily and unfairly detained two Canadian citizens, and indeed in one of the cases is not respecting the principles of diplomatic immunity", Trudeau told reporters.

Matt Kuchar leads Sony Open by two shots after 54 holes
At the 417-yard par-4 16th, after his drive went to the fairway bunker Smith stuck his next shot close and carded a birdie. He also beat Patrick Reed and Ian Poulter, who are both only 15 years younger than Love but also played in the Ryder Cup.

"China is going to face lots of questions about why this particular person, of this particular nationality, had to be retried at this particular time", Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch's China director, told Reuters.

William Nee, a Hong Kong-based China researcher with Amnesty International, said it was horrified that Schellenberg had been sentenced to death, particularly as drug-related offences did not meet the threshold of the "most serious crimes" to which the death penalty must be restricted under international law.

Trudeau suggested that Kovrig still enjoyed diplomatic immunity, an assertion rejected by the Chinese foreign ministry on Monday.

"If the Chinese government has an innocent explanation for all the unusual features of this case, I hope it will provide it-otherwise, I don't know how to understand this case other than as a simple threat", he said.

According to the court, Schellenberg was recruited to help smuggle 222 kilograms of methamphetamine from a Chinese warehouse to Australia.

"It's clear that Chinese courts are not independent, and by systematic design, courts can be influenced by Communist Party officials", he said. "He is an worldwide drug smuggler and a liar", The Post quoted Schellenberg telling the court.

In what is believed to be a retaliation to Meng's arrest, Chinese authorities detained former diplomat Michael Kovrig, who now works for a foreign think tank, and businessman Michael Spavor days later. It says the two men are being investigated in accordance with Chinese law.

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