Fourth Canadian sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking

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BEIJING | A fourth Canadian has been sentenced to death in China in a drug case, amid growing diplomatic tensions for a year and a half between Ottawa and Beijing, a court said on Friday.

This Canadian national, identified in Mandarin as Ye Jianhui, was on trial for “drug trafficking and production”, announced the Intermediate Court of Foshan, in the province of Guangdong (south).

Ye Jianhui and five other defendants were sentenced at the same time, including one accused to death.

According to the English-language daily Global Times, authorities seized 217 kilograms of MDMA (or ecstasy) from the six defendants, prosecuted for facts dating back to 2015 and 2016.

On Thursday, a court in Canton, the capital of Guangdong, announced the death sentence of another Canadian national, Xu Weihong, for “production” of drugs.

In reaction, the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, said he was “deeply worried”.

“We will always oppose the death penalty”, recalled Mr. Champagne during an interview with the CBC channel. “We have said it over and over to the Chinese government and we will continue to do so.”

Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have been strained since the arrest in December 2018 in Vancouver – at the request of the Americans – of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

Accused by Washington of complicity in fraud to circumvent the sanctions against Iran, she is on probation in Canada, from where she risks extradition to the United States.

In January 2019, a Chinese court sentenced a Canadian citizen, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, to death after a new trial demanded by the court, after a 15-year prison sentence at first instance for drug trafficking. .

Already convicted in the past in Canada of drug trafficking, Mr. Schellenberg proclaimed his innocence and claimed to have gone to China for tourism.

Then in April of the same year, a Chinese court sentenced to death for the same reason a Canadian national identified as Fan Wei.

Just after the arrest of the Huawei leader, China arrested in December 2018 two Canadians, still in detention: a former diplomat and a consultant, accused of “threatening national security”. Arrests that many foreign experts consider to be retaliatory measures.

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