Australian man sentenced to death for drug smuggling

An Australian man has been sentenced to death in China for drug smuggling, just as relations between the two countries have plummeted to a new low.

Details about the man, his background, and the case are very limited at the moment. Hes been identified as Karm Gilespie (). According to Chinese media reports, he was arrested at the Guangzhou Baiyun Airport with 7.5 kg of methamphetamine in luggage way back in 2013.

Nothing had been heard about Gilespie until late last week when the Guangzhou Intermediate Peoples Court announced that he had been sentenced to death.

The sentence comes as tensions between Australia and China have soared with Australia leading the charge in calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus while China has warned its students not to study in Australia, citing racist attacks against Asians.

Gilespies saga recalls that of Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, a Canadian man who was arrested in 2014 in Dalian for smuggling over 222 kilograms of methamphetamine and was sentenced years later to 15 years in prison, only to have his sentence changed to death after Canadas arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of the US.

Australian officials have spoken out against Gilespies sentencing on humanitarian grounds  capital punishment has long been abolished in Australia. In response, China has said that Australia should respect its judicial sovereignty.

While the timing certainly may seem fishy, its also worth noting that cases against foreigners can often drag on for many years inside Chinas judicial system.

Gilespie worked as an actor and motivational speaker. He has a wife and children. He also has a Facebook page that hasnt been updated since November 2013.

One of his friends made a Facebook post on Saturday, giving some background information, beginning with Gilespies sudden disappearance.

We spent a few years trying to find out how he could disappear so suddenly and so entirely, Roger James Hamilton writes in the post. After that, we resigned ourselves to the idea that he had left because he wanted to start a new life.

Hamilton says that after news of Gilespies sentencing broke, another friend wrote to him describing why Gilespie was arrested: He was over there meeting investors for a deal. They asked him to carry presents back to their partners in Australia which included handbags. The drugs were in the handbags. It was a set up.

Meanwhile, Gilespies own family have broken their silence only to say that they will not be making any public comments and ask that Gilespies friends also refrain from speculating as they do not believe it assists his case.



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