Australian sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling
The Australian man was reportedly arrested with methamphetamine in his luggage
An Australian man has been sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling, the Australian government has confirmed.
The man was referred to as Karm or Cam Gilespie in Australian media.
In 2013, he was arrested with 7.5 kg of methamphetamine, also known as ice, in his luggage at an airport, reports the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
The Australian Department of State and Commerce said it was "deeply sad to hear the verdict".
"Australia is opposed to the death penalty for all people at all costs. We support the general abolition of the death penalty and are committed to pursuing this goal in all possible ways," said a statement.
What is the background?
Relations between China and Australia have been impacted by trade disputes and mutual criticism during the coronavirus pandemic.
Australia angered China by demanding an independent investigation into the origins of the virus, which was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
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As a result, Beijing warned citizens against going to Australia and said that racist attacks on Asians had "increased significantly" and asked Chinese students to consider the risks of studying.
China has also banned Australia's beef imports and imposed tariffs on its barley. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia would "never be intimidated by threats."
Karm Gilespie is said to have been arrested seven years ago when he attempted to board an international flight from Baiyun Airport in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
According to Chinese media reports, the death sentence was pronounced by the Guangzhou Intermediate Court on June 10.
How often does China execute people?
China refuses to disclose how many people it executes. Amnesty International rights group believes that thousands are killed every year. The judgment is carried out by lethal injection or by shooting.
At least a dozen foreigners have been executed for drug-related offenses, and many more are on death row.
One of the best known cases concerned the British Akmal Shaikh, who was executed in 2009 despite alleging that he was mentally ill and had asked for mercy from the British Prime Minister.
Australians had previously been sentenced to death, including Bengali Sherrif in 2015. Sherrif was arrested at Guangzhou Airport after trying to smuggle methamphetamine between China and Australia.
At the time, the Australian public broadcaster said that Sheriff's death sentence could be brought to life in prison after two years of good behavior.
Australia was also concerned when Canadian citizen Robert Schellenberg was sentenced to death in January 2019.
Prosecutors say he tried to smuggle nearly 227 kg of methamphetamine from Dalian, north China, to Australia. Schellenberg denied all charges and said he was framed.
Canada's death sentence in China is "terrible," the family says
Simon Birmingham - the then Secretary of State at the time and now Australia's Secretary of Commerce - said the country was "deeply concerned" about the case.
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