Chinese court orders new trial for Canadian in drug case

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was tried in 2016 but his case has been publicized by the Chinese press this month

China’s state media say a Canadian charged with smuggling drugs will be in court for an appeal on Saturday. Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying gestures during a press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Beijing on Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein

A Canadian man convicted of drug trafficking in China faces the possibility of more serious charges after a court ordered a new trial amid tensions over Canada’s arrest of a Chinese technology executive.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was tried in 2016 but his case has been publicized by the Chinese press following the Dec. 1 arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei, on U.S. charges related to trading with Iran.

Since then, China has arrested Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on charges of endangering national security in apparent retaliation.

Chinese authorities also detained Alberta teacher Sarah McIver over what they said was a work-permit issue, but she has since been released after more than a week and custody and has returned to Canada. Both China and Canada have insisted McIver’s case was different from Kovrig’s and Spavor’s.

An appeals court agreed with prosecutors who said Schellenberg was punished too leniently when he was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of being an accessory to drug smuggling.

The Higher People’s Court of the northeastern province of Liaoning says evidence showed it was possible Schellenberg played an “important role” as it ordered the court in the city of Dalian to try the case again.

Authorities have released no details of the accusations against Schellenberg.

The maximum penalty for drug trafficking in China is death.

—With files from The Canadian Press

The Associated Press

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