ABBOTSFORD (NEWS 1130) – Member of Parliament for Abbotsford Ed Fast is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “immediately intervene” and protect the life of a Canadian who was sentenced to death by a Chinese court.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death Monday evening in a sudden retrial in a drug smuggling case.
The court in northeastern Liaoning province announced that it had given Schellenberg the death penalty after rejecting his plea of innocence and convicting him of being an accessory to drug smuggling.
“It appears from the rush to re-try and re-sentence Mr. Schellenberg that the Government of China is politicizing his appeal in retaliation for the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou,” wrote Fast in a statement.
Schellenberg was detained more than four years ago and initially sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2016. But last month, an appeals court agreed with prosecutors who said the sentence was too lenient and scheduled Monday’s retrial with just four days’ notice.
Schellenberg’s lawyer, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client now has 10 days to appeal.
“While I do not question Mr. Schelleberg’s criminal past or China’s right to govern its own criminal justice system, that does not extend to the use of the death penalty, which Canada fiercely opposes,” Fast added.
China has also arrested Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavos, accused of endangering national security. A Canadian teacher was also detained briefly but was later released.
“The Government of Canada needs to outline what steps they are taking to ensure the safety of this Canadian citizen so he does not lose his life over a political dispute,” said Fast.
-With files from Kurtis Doering, Hana Mae Nassar, and the Associated Press