A Chinese court sentenced a second Canadian man to death for drug trafficking on Tuesday, provoking a strong rebuke from Ottawa, which already has a strained relationship with Beijing.
The court in southern Guangdong province said the Canadian, Fan Wei, and 10 others – including an American and four Mexicans – were part of an international drug syndicate working out of Taishan city between July and November 2012.
The group produced and sold 63.38 kilograms of methamphetamine and 366 grams of dimethylamylamine, a drug used for attention deficit-hyperactive disorder, weight loss and improving athletic performance, according to the Jiangmen Intermediate People’s Court.
Fan and a Chinese man who played a key role in the operation were sentenced to death, the court said in a statement.
“The number of drugs sold and manufactured was extremely large and the crimes were extremely serious,” the statement said.
The other foreigners were given suspended death sentences which would be reduced to life imprisonment after two years while the rest of the men faced prison terms.
They have 10 days to appeal the sentence.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland reacted to the sentencing, saying her government is “very concerned.”
“Canada stands firmly opposed to the use of the death penalty, everywhere around the world,” she told reporters. “We think that this is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which should not be used in any country.
“We are obviously, particularly concerned when it is applied to Canadians.”
In a statement, the Canadian Foreign Ministry called on China to grant clemency for Fan, who is the second Canadian to face capital punishment this year.
In January, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was handed the death penalty following a one-day retrial after he appealed an earlier 15-year sentence in a separate drug trafficking case.
China says that he was a key member of an international drug trafficking syndicate but Schellenberg claims that he was visiting as a tourist.
The sentence came against the backdrop of chilly diplomatic relations between China and Canada, with Beijing infuriated by the Vancouver arrest of a top executive from telecom giant Huawei on a US extradition request related to Iran sanctions violations.
Chinese authorities later detained two Canadian nationals – a former diplomat and a business consultant – on suspicion of endangering national security, a move seen as retaliation over the Huawei executive’s arrest.
Schellenberg has appealed his sentence and Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is fighting extradition.
– with reporting by AFP