Chinese court orders new trial for Canadian in drug trafficking case

Alberta teacher Sarah McIver returned to Canada after arrest in China

But the court ordered a retrial after it adopted the prosecutors' opinion that they had found new evidence revealing the defendant was "very likely" to have played "an important role in the activities of drug smuggling".

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian citizen, will be put on trial by Northeast China's Liaoning Provincial High People's Court on drug smuggling charges, according to runsky, a website run by the Dalian Radio and Television Station, on Wednesday. But his case has been publicized by the Chinese press following the December 1 arrest of the chief financial officer of tech giant Huawei on US charges related to trading with Iran.

Schellenberg's trial comes amid reports in worldwide media that another Canadian, Sarah McIver - who was taken into "administrative detention" for "working illegally" in China - has been released and has returned to Canada.

Since then, China has arrested Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor on charges of endangering national security in apparent retaliation.

China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent to Reuters that it was aware of reports McIver had been released, and referred further questions to the "relevant authority".

The European Union says it supports Ottawa in the struggle over three Canadians detained in China, and that two of them are being blocked from seeing a lawyer.

Four other Japanese were executed in China in 2010 for drugs offences.

A Dalian government news portal said this week Schellenberg had smuggled "an enormous amount of drugs" into China.

China has demanded Canada free Meng, who is fighting extradition to the United States, where she would face fraud charges that carry a maximum sentence of 30 years jail for each charge.

Both China and Canada have insisted McIver's case was different from Kovrig's and Spavor's.

"Global Affairs can confirm that a Canadian citizen, who was detained in China this month, has been released and has now returned to Canada", spokesman Richard Walker said.

Chinese foreign ministry, earlier this month, has said McIver has been undergoing "administrative punishment" for working much illegally.

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