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Canadian sentenced to death for drug smuggling by Chinese court

By CAO YIN | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2019-01-14 20:52

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg appears in court. [Photo from Intermediate People's Court of Dalian city]

A Chinese court on Monday sentenced Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg to death for smuggling more than 222 kilograms of drugs.

All property and assets of Schellenberg were also confiscated, according to the ruling made by the Intermediate People's Court in Dalian city, Liaoning province, in Northeast China.

He could appeal to the Liaoning High People's Court within 10 days, according to the court release.

The court affirmed that the Schellenberg took part in organized transnational drug smuggling and acted as a ringleader in a methamphetamine trafficking case in 2014.

Three other suspects were named by the court as important figures in the transnational drug smuggling group: Stephen, Kem and "Mr Zhou" (translated from Chinese release). China Daily could not immediately verify their English names.

According to the release, in October 2014, Kem asked a man in Dalian surnamed Xu, who was hired as a translator, to rent a warehouse in Dalian and receive 222 packages of methamphetamine that "Mr Zhou" and another man named Jian Xiangrong smuggled from Guangdong province to Dalian.

On Nov 19, 2014, Kem sent Schellenberg to meet with Xu in Dalian to try to stuff the drugs into tires and smuggle it to Australia. Schellenberg required Xu to lead him to purchase tools and asked Xu to order tires. Later he changed the shipment date from November to December.

On Nov 27, 2014, Schellenberg called another man named Mai Qingxiang, asking him to find another warehouse to store the drugs. Two days later, Xu reported the case to police.

Realizing the case was exposed, Schellenberg went to Dalian airport and boarded a flight to Thailand. When the flight had a stopover in Guangdong, he was caught by local police, according to the court.

Dalian police seized the 222 packages of drugs - 222.03 kilograms of methamphetamine.

Jian has been given a life imprisonment for holding and transporting drugs, while Mai has been suspended death sentence for drug transportation in earlier trials, the court said.

The other three suspects in the transnational drug smuggling group are still at large.

The court said Schellenberg should be considered as a ringleader in the smuggling case, as he fully took part in the crime and was a key part of the case.

"The conviction and death penalty of the defendant were based on clear facts and sufficient evidence," it said.

China's Criminal Law states people who smuggle, sell, transport, produce drugs in China will face a sentence of up to death if they participate in organized international drug smuggling activities or the amount of methamphetamine is over 50 grams.

"The conviction and penalty to Schellenberg is reasonable," said Lin Wei, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who attended Monday's hearing. "From the facts, the defendant should be identified as a ringleader, as he played a key role and the smuggling in Dalian was just a part in their cross-national crime," he said.

In China, all capital punishment must be submitted to the Supreme People's Court, the top court, for final review before being carried out.

Monday's hearing was not the first trial of the case. On Nov 20, the Intermediate People's Court in Dalian sentenced Schellenberg to 15 years in prison for the same charge and seized $21,800 worth of his assets. But Schellenberg disputed and appealed to higher court.

On Dec 29, the Liaoning High People's Court publicly heard the case, and the provincial prosecutors protested the original penalty, saying it was lenient. The high court sent the case back to the court in Dalian for a retrial.

Later, Dalian prosecutors provided new facts of the case, and the Intermediate People's Court in Dalian rebuilt a panel for the rehearing.

During Monday's trial, the defense rights of Schellenberg were fully protected and a translator was provided for him, according to the court. Representatives from the Canadian embassy in Beijing, and domestic and overseas media organizations attended the hearing.

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