CHINA

Canadian sentenced to death on drug charges

China has sentenced a third Canadian citizen to death on drug charges amid a steep decline in relations between the two countries.

The Guangzhou Municipal Intermediate Court announced Xu Weihong’s penalty on Thursday and said an alleged accomplice, Wen Guanxiong, had been given a life sentence.

Death sentences are automatically referred to China’s highest court for review.

The brief court statement gave no details, but local media in the southern Chinese city at the heart of the country’s manufacturing industry said Xu and Wen had gathered ingredients and tools and begun making the drug ketamine in October 2016, then stored the final product in Xu’s home in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district.

Police later confiscated more than 266 pounds of the drug from Xu’s home and another address, the reports said. Ketamine is a powerful painkiller that has become popular among clubgoers in China and elsewhere.

Relations between China and Canada soured over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, an executive and the daughter of the founder of Chinese tech giant Huawei, at Vancouver’s airport in late 2018. The United States wants her extradited to face fraud charges over the company’s dealings with Iran. Her arrest infuriated Beijing, which sees her case as a political move designed to prevent China’s rise as a global technology power.

In apparent retaliation, China detained former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and Canadian entrepreneur Michael Spavor, accusing them of vague national security crimes.

Soon after, China handed a death sentence to convicted Canadian drug smuggler Robert Schellenberg in a sudden retrial, and in April 2019, it gave the death penalty to a Canadian citizen identified as Fan Wei in a drug-smuggling case.

Beijing has also placed restrictions on various Canadian exports to China, in an apparent attempt to pressure Ottawa into releasing Meng.

— Associated Press

Dozens feared dead after boat capsizes off Mauritania coast: Dozens of people are feared dead after a boat carrying migrants sank off Mauritania's Atlantic coast, according to the U.N. refugee agency. About 40 people were aboard the vessel, Vincent Cochetel, the U.N. refugee agency's special envoy for the central Mediterranean, said on Twitter. There is one survivor from Guinea, he said. Those aboard the vessel were migrants from sub-Saharan Africa, confirmed the Africa spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency.

Fire kills 8 coronavirus patients in Indian hospital: A fire killed eight coronavirus patients at a hospital in the western Indian state of Gujarat, officials said. Firefighters and 15 fire engines contained the blaze to the intensive care unit at Shrey Hospital, a fire officer said, and it was extinguished in half an hour. Thirty-five patients were shifted to other hospitals, he said. A state government official said an electrical short-circuit appeared to be the cause of the fire, which occurred in the city of Ahmedabad.

Saudi coalition says it shot down Houthi drone: The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement in Yemen said it shot down an explosives-laden drone heading toward the kingdom, a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency said. The drone had been launched from Hodeida governorate on Yemen's Red Sea coast, the coalition said. It did not say where the drone was intercepted. Cross-border attacks by Houthi forces have escalated since late May, when a truce prompted by the coronavirus pandemic expired. The conflict in Yemen has killed more than 100,000 people since the Saudi-led alliance intervened in March 2015 shortly after the Houthis ousted the Saudi-backed government from the capital.

Zimbabwean reporter denied bail amid clampdown: An investigative journalist in Zimbabwe will remain in jail after a judge dismissed his bail application. Hopewell Chin'ono has been in detention for more than two weeks. Before his arrest, Chin'ono regularly posted on Twitter about alleged government corruption and encouraged Zimbabweans to speak out and act against graft. He is charged with inciting public violence for supporting anti-government demonstrations that were planned for July 31. Opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume was arrested for organizing the protests, which were thwarted by authorities. Hundreds have been arrested in recent months — including journalists, lawyers, opposition politicians, doctors and nurses — for protesting the government or striking for better pay as tensions rise in the southern African country.

— From news services