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Canadian Sentenced to Death in China for Drug Smuggling
A Chinese court on Monday (January 14) sentenced a Canadian man to be executed for drug smuggling, prompting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to accuse China of using the death penalty arbitrarily. The ruling, and Trudeau's reaction, could aggravate already sour relations between Beijing and Ottawa following the arrest of a senior Chinese executive in Canada and China's subsequent detention of two Canadians. The Dalian Intermediate People's Court in China's northeast province of Liaoning re-tried Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who had appealed his original 15-year prison sentence, and decided on execution, the court said in a statement. 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. "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," Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa. The court said Schellenberg had conspired with others in an attempt to smuggle 222 kg (489.43 lb) of methamphetamine from China to Australia in late 2014. He was arrested on Dec. 1 of that year. Chinese state television said in an earlier report that Schellenberg argued in court that he was a tourist visiting China and was framed by criminals. Before his arrest, Schellenberg had prepared to flee to Thailand from Dalian but was arrested while in transit in Guangzhou, the court said. It did not offer further information about Schellenberg, including his age and occupation, though media reports have said he is a 36-year-old former oil worker. A lawyer for Schellenberg, Zhang Dongshuo, told Reuters his client would probably appeal against the death sentence.