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Canadian sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling

Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death on Monday for drug smuggling charges.

Schellenberg was detained four years ago for smuggling “an enormous amount of drugs” into China, according to, a news portal operated by Dalian authorities.

Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in the northeast province of Liaoning retried Schellenberg, after prosecutors said the original 15-year sentence was too lenient, the court said in a brief statement on its website.

The retrial took place Monday; prosecutors argued they had new evidence Schellenberg was involved in organized drug crimes, while Schellenberg said he was a tourist and was being set up, the New York Times reports. The sentence of death was handed out by the end of the day.

China silent on Canadian awaiting drug smuggling trial, while feds provide ‘consular services’

Global Affairs Canada has not yet replied to a request for comment from Global News. Previously, a spokesperson said it has been following the case for several years and has been providing “consular assistance to the Canadian citizen since they were first detained in Liaoning, China.”

The news comes amid tensions between Canada and China over the detention of Chinese businesswoman Meng Wanzhou in December. Meng is the CFO of Chinese technology company, Huawei.

Since her arrest, two Canadians were detained in China on charges of spying. Others have been detained because of issues with their visa. Experts have said the arrests of Canadians were retalliation by China for Meng’s case.

WATCH: Latest news videos on the diplomatic spat between China and Canada

Chinese law expert Donald Clarke, a professor at George Washington University law school, suggested Schellenbeg’s retrial was also connected to the case of Meng.

“The case appears to reinforce the message, previously suggested by the detentions of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, that China views the holding of human hostages as an acceptable way to conduct diplomacy,” he wrote in a blog post last week.

He also said the speed of Schellenberg’s appeal was a red flag. During Schellenberg’s appeal, it only took 20 minutes for the court to decide to send his case for a retrial — “suggesting that it was decided in advance,” Clark wrote.

China has some of the harshest drug laws in the world.

People found guilty of smuggling large quantities of drugs face sentences ranging from 15 years’ imprisonment to life in jail and even the death penalty, China’s Global Times newspaper reported.

WATCH: Trying to keep it ‘business as usual’ as diplomatic spat continues between Canada, China

*with files from Global News’ Rahul Kalvapalle and Reuters

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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