Second Canadian sentenced to death for drug smuggling in China

A court in China has sentenced Fan Wei to death for producing and trafficking methamphetamine. Wei is the second Canadian sentenced to death this year, and his verdict was announced amid escalating tensions between Canada and China over the arrest of a Huawei executive, Meng Wanzhou, in December 2018.

According to the statement released by the court in Guangdong province, a total of 11 people were sentenced, including one American and four Mexican citizens. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, two other Canadian citizens, have also been detained and accused of espionage-related offences. However, neither of them has been formally charged. In January, another Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, was sentenced to death after having originally been given a 15-year jail term.

The court had accused Fan Wei of playing a leadership role in “extraordinarily serious transnational trafficking and manufacturing of narcotics.” According to the court, the group had manufactured 63.83 kilograms of methamphetamine and 365.9 grams of dimethylamphetamine between July and November, 2012.

In response to the verdict, Canada has requested clemency for Mr. Fan and accused Beijing of arbitrarily applying the death penalty. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland had condemned the use of the death penalty as “a cruel and inhumane punishment which should not be used in any country.” In an interview with journalists, on Parliament Hill, she said, “We’re very concerned by this sentence. Canada stands firmly opposed to the use of the death penalty everywhere around the world… We are obviously particularly concerned when it is applied to Canadians.”
Drug-dealing is punishable by death in China, and other foreigners had been executed for drug-related offences, with many currently on death row.

In her interview with The Globe and Mail, Doriane Lau, China researcher at Amnesty International, said: “The secrecy around China’s death-penalty system contributes to why people will be questioning the motives behind this death sentence… At the same time, the Chinese government has long seen the use of death penalty as taking tough action against drug-related crimes. The authorities continue to execute a significant number of individuals for drug-related and other offences, which do not meet the ‘most serious crimes’ threshold to which the use of the death penalty must be restricted under international law.”

According to a statement released by Global Affairs Canada, the country “has raised our firm opposition to the death penalty with China, and will continue to do so.”

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