The Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in China’s Liaoning province re-tried Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who had appealed his original 15-year prison sentence, and decided on execution, the court said in a statement.
"I am not a drug smuggler. I came to China as a tourist," said Schellenberg just minutes before the verdict was announced.
Schellenberg was told in court he had the right to appeal to Liaoning High Court within 10 days upon receiving the ruling, the intermediate court said in a second statement.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denounced the ruling, saying, “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 ... as in this case.”
Former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, told reporters he believes Schellenberg’s case is serving as an example and his conviction is “confirmation that we’re going through a crisis.”
"Of course, the government will ask for clemency. I would add also that Mr. Schellenberg claims that he was framed and that he never dealt with drugs," he said.
Schellenberg’s aunt, Lauri Nelson-Jones, said, “Our thoughts are with Robert at this time. It is rather unimaginable what he must be feeling and thinking.
“The Schellenberg family requests that all Canadians stand with us and pray for the safe return of our loved one.”
“The Canadian foreign ministry has heightened its advisory, cautioning Canadians against traveling to China and recommending they educate themselves on “the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws,” Nelson-Jones said in a statement.
China-Canada 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 U.S. extradition warrant.
China warned of unspecified consequences unless Meng was released, and detained Michael Kovrig, a Canadian diplomat on unpaid leave from the embassy in Beijing, and Michael Spavor, a Canadian consultant, on suspicion of endangering state security.
Beijing has not drawn a direct link between the detentions and the arrest of Meng, wanted by U.S. authorities for allegedly misleading multinational banks about Iran-linked transactions. Western diplomats say the cases are a tit-for-tat reprisal; although China’s ambassador to Canada, Lu Shaye, told the media that it is “China’s self-defense.”
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to 16 months in jail for drug trafficking in 2012 in Canada, according to the CBC.