This photograph taken and released by the Intermediate Peoples' Court of Dalian on Jan 14, 2019 shows Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg (center) during his retrial on drug trafficking charges in the court in Dalian in China's northeast Liaoning province. (HANDOUT / HO / AFP)
Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death for smuggling more than 222 kilograms of drugs by Dalian Intermediate People's Court on Monday in a retrial after he sought an appeal of the initial trial's ruling.
The same court had previously sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
The conviction and death penalty of the defendant were based on clear facts and sufficient evidence
Dalian Intermediate People's Court, Liaoning province, China
In the retrial, the court in Liaoning province also ordered his property and assets seized.
The court affirmed in the retrial that Schellenberg participated in organized transnational drug smuggling and was the ringleader in a methamphetamine trafficking case in 2014.
A court release named three others as important figures in the drug smuggling ring: Stephen, Kem and Mr Zhou (translated from the Chinese release). China Daily could not verify their English names by press time.
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 and purchase tires in Dalian and to 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 asked Schellenberg to meet with Xu in Dalian, try to stuff the drugs into the tires and smuggle them into Australia. Schellenberg asked Xu to take him to purchase tools and required Xu to order tires. Later he changed the shipment date from November to December.
On Dec 27, Schellenberg called another man named Mai Qingxiang, asking him to find another warehouse to store the drugs. Two days later, Xu called the police.
Realizing he had been exposed, Schellenberg tried to fly to Thailand from the Dalian airport. The flight had a stopover in Guangzhou, where he was taken into custody by police, according to the court release.
Dalian police seized the 222 packages containing 222.03 kilograms of methamphetamine.
In an earlier trial, Jian had been sentenced to life imprisonment for holding and transporting drugs, and Mai received a suspended death sentence for transporting drugs, the court said.
The other three suspects in the transnational drug smuggling group remain at large.
The court said Schellenberg should be considered the ringleader, 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," the court said.
Under China's Criminal Law, people who smuggle, sell, transport or produce illegal drugs in China can be sentenced to death if they participate in organized international drug smuggling or, as in this case, the amount of methamphetamine is over 50 grams.
Schellenberg can appeal the ruling within 10 days to the Liaoning High People's Court.
In China, all death sentences must receive a final review from the Supreme People's Court.
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