Second Canadian sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling
(CNN) — A Canadian citizen has been sentenced to death in China for producing and trafficking a large amount of methamphetamine, a Chinese court announced Tuesday.
The verdict marks the second time a Canadian citizen has been sentenced to death on drug charges in China this year, amid escalating tensions between the two countries over the arrest of a Huawei executive.
According to a statement issued Tuesday by the Jiangmen Intermediate People’s Court in Guangdong province, a total of 11 people were sentenced at the hearing, including one American and four Mexican citizens.
Only the Canadian, who name is translated as Fan Wei, and a Chinese national, Wu Ziping, received the death penalty.
The harsher sentence was due to their role in helping to organize the trafficking operation in March 2012, according to the court statement. In total, they were found to have trafficked 63 kilograms (139 pounds) of methamphetamine.
The American and Mexican citizens received either a suspended death sentence or life imprisonment. The statement noted all defendants could appeal the verdict within 10 days.
In January, Canadian national Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was also given a death sentence after a rapid retrial, a move which plunged relations between Canada and China to a new low.
The sentences come as two other Canadian men — ex-diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor — remain in detention in China on suspicion of espionage.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called for the immediate release of both Korvig and Spavor, describing their detentions as “arbitrary.”
The cases have previously been interpreted in Canada as retaliation for the country’s decision to arrest Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei.
Meng was taken into custody on December 1, 2018, in Vancouver on behalf of the United States on charges of working to evade Iran sanctions.
The Chinese government has repeatedly protested Meng’s detention, saying the arrest was political.
“Both Canada and the US abused their bilateral extradition treaty and took forced actions on a Chinese citizen. This severely infringed a Chinese citizen’s legitimate rights,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in March.
Meng is currently under house arrest in Vancouver and is facing extradition to the US.