Trudeau: Chinese death sentence arbitrary

BEIJING (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is extremely concerned that China has chosen to “arbitrarily” apply the death penalty against a Canadian.

The comments are Trudeau’s strongest yet against China. The prime minister says he is “extremely concerned as should all countries around the world” that China is choosing to act arbitrarily with its justice system and with its choice not to respect longstanding practices regarding diplomatic immunity.

A Chinese court announced Monday that it had given Canadian Robert Lloyd Schellenberg the death penalty on drug charges. The Chinese press began publicizing Schellenberg’s case in December after Canada detained Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States.

Since then, China has arrested two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Meng’s arrest. It arrested both Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, a businessman, on suspicion of endangering national security.

A former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, believes the Chinese likely interrogated Kovrig about his time as a diplomat in China and that would break the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations. He says there is a notion of residual diplomatic immunity that means a country is not allowed to question someone on the work they did when they were a diplomat.