Canadian foreign minister ‘expresses firm opposition to this cruel and inhumane punishment’
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – A Chinese court on Tuesday upheld a death sentence against Canadian citizen Robert Schellenberg, while another Canadian imprisoned in China may find out his fate on Wednesday.
Canada was outraged by Schellenberg’s death sentence.
“Canada strongly condemns China’s decision to uphold the death sentence against Robert Schellenberg,” Marc Garneau, Canada’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said in a statement. “We have repeatedly expressed to China our firm opposition to this cruel and inhumane punishment and will continue to engage with Chinese officials at the highest levels to grant clemency to Mr. Schellenberg.”
Schellenberg was convicted on drug charges and sentenced to 15 years in November 2018. But, following the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada in December 2018, he was retried in January 2019 and sentenced to death.
Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — referred to as the “two Michaels” — were arrested soon after Meng was detained on an extradition request by the Americans, who wanted her to face fraud charges. The two Michaels are accused of spying.
China was outraged by Meng’s arrest and demanded her immediate release but Canada refused. Schellenberg’s death sentence, the continued imprisonment of the two Michaels and Spavor’s pending court decision are widely seen as a ploy by Beijing to exert pressure on Canada to release Meng.
She is in the process of an ongoing extradition hearing in Vancouver and is being held on house arrest. The verdict is expected within weeks.
Meanwhile, a verdict in the Spavor case is expected by Wednesday, said Dominic Barton, Canada’s envoy to China.
Barton was asked if he thought the two Michaels and Schellenberg cases were connected to the Meng trial.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence these are happening right now while events are going on in Vancouver,” he told CTV News.