File picture: Tingshu Wang/Reuters
File picture: Tingshu Wang/Reuters

China sentences Australian to death for smuggling drugs

By Ryan Ho Kilpatrick and Subel Bhandari Time of article published Jun 13, 2020

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Beijing - An Australian national has been sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling, according to the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court.

Australian Cam Gillespie was arrested with over 7.5 kilograms of methamphetamine in his check-in luggage in 2013 while attempting to board an international flight from Baiyun Airport in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

The court also ordered that all of Gillespie's personal property be confiscated.

Australia said on Saturday it was providing consular assistance, although access to prisoners remains difficult due to Covid-19 restriction measures implemented by the Chinese government. 

"We are deeply saddened to hear of the verdict made in his case," a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told dpa, adding: "Australia opposes the death penalty in all circumstances for all people."

Convicted drug smugglers face long prison sentences or the death penalty in China.

Foreigners previously executed by China for drug charges include a Japanese national in 2014, a Filipina in 2013 and a Briton in 2009.

Last year, China sentenced two Canadians to death for drug-related crimes following the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

Their detention was seen by some as a retaliatory move by Beijing for the proceedings against Meng.

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, another Canadian, received the death sentence after a sudden retrial in which the court deemed his previous 15-year prison sentence too lenient.

New Zealander Peter Gardner is still awaiting sentencing after allegedly attempting to smuggle methamphetamine out of Guangzhou's Baiyun Airport in 2014. 

dpa

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