Canada-China tensions flare over drug death sentence Jan 16, 2019 0 733 12345 AFPBeijingChina on Tuesday vociferously defended a court’s decision to impose the death penalty on a convicted Canadian drug smuggler, escalating a diplomatic row that experts say has descended into a high-stakes game of “hostage politics”.China’s foreign ministry blasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “irresponsible remarks” after he criticised the death sentence handed to 36-year-old Robert Lloyd Schellenberg.Beijing and Ottawa have been squabbling since last month, when Canada arrested the chief financial officer of top Chinese telecom company Huawei on a US extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.In a move observers see as retaliation, Chinese authorities detained two Canadian citizens -- a former diplomat and a business consultant -- on suspicion of endangering national security.Then authorities revisited the little-known case of Schellenberg, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in November for drug offences.A month later, an upper court took up his appeal and ordered a hasty retrial in the northeastern city of Dalian after ruling that the punishment was too lenient.The timing and swiftness of Schellenberg’s sentence, and the inclusion of new evidence presenting him as a key player in a plan to ship 222 kilogrammes (490 pounds) of methamphetamine to Australia, raised suspicion among observers.“Playing hostage politics, China rushes the retrial of a Canadian suspect and sentences him to death in a fairly transparent attempt to pressure Canada,” Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said in a tweet.Donald Clarke, a George Washington University professor specialising in Chinese law, coined an even grimmer term for the situation: “death threat diplomacy”.“The Chinese government is not even trying to pretend that there was a fair trial here,” he said.Trudeau expressed “extreme concern” that China had “chosen to arbitrarily” apply the death penalty.But Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying denied Beijing had politicised Schellenberg’s case, calling on Canada to “respect China’s judicial sovereignty... and stop making such irresponsible remarks”.Schellenberg plans to appeal, his lawyer told AFP. RELATED ARTICLES Mueller probe no ‘witch hunt’, says Trump’s A-G pick Jan 16, 2019 0 4871 Six-fold increase in Antarctica ice loss since 1979: Study Jan 16, 2019 0 800 Lawmakers reject Brexit deal in crushing defeat for PM May Jan 16, 2019 0 374 Hondurans’ new US-bound caravan draws fire from Trump AFP San Pedro Sula Hundreds of Hondurans have set out on a trek to the United States, forming another caravan that US President Donald Trump cited on Tuesday to justify building a wall on the border with Mexico. “A big new .. US extends troop deployment at Mexico border Washington: The Pentagon said Monday it would extend until September 30 the deployment of active-duty soldiers and Coast Guard members at the US-Mexico border, while expanding the mission to include surveillance and .. Brazil’s president eases gun laws with decree Bogota: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday signed a decree relaxing the country’s strict gun controls in an attempt to stem mounting crime. “The people have decided to buy arms and munitions and we cannot deny .. 11th victim in Austria as snow breaks records Vienna: A Czech ski instructor was killed by an avalanche in Austria on Tuesday, the 11th avalanche fatality the Alpine country has seen this winter amid historic snowfall. The 24-year-old man was skiing off-piste with .. Macron kickstarts ‘great debate’ to win back French French President Emmanuel Macron attempted on Tuesday to rebound from two months of often violent anti-government protests by launching a nationwide debate over the grievances fuelling the ‘yellow vest’ movement. .. Turkish coastguard saves 46 migrants, recovers one body DPA Istanbul The Turkish coastguard says it has rescued 46 migrants from the Aegean Sea off the coast of Turkey and recovered one body. They were picked up off the western Turkish district of Kusadasi, the coastguard said .. N-arms treaty faces collapse after failed US-Russia talks AFP Geneva The survival of a key nuclear arms control treaty was cast further in doubt on Tuesday after the United States and Russia blamed each other for pushing the agreement to the brink of collapse. Senior diplomats ..