New Zealand man faces death in China

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BEIJING: A New Zealand man was tried Thursday for smuggling large quantities of crystal methamphetamine out of China, a court said, in a case that could carry the death penalty.

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Peter Gardner was arrested in the southern city of Guangzhou last November allegedly carrying over 30 kilograms (66 lb) of the drug in his luggage.

Gardner had been duped into being a mule for a drugs syndicate, his lawyer said, according to a live feed on the website of Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court.

The 25-year-old, who is reported to have lived in Australia for most of his life, had offered to “help police capture…the criminal gang” involved, the attorney said.

“He’s been feeling very sorry for doing this,” he added. “He was just playing a small part in this and running errands.”

The proceedings were completed on Thursday, but it was not clear when the verdict and sentence would be handed down. More than 99.9 percent of defendants in Chinese criminal courts are found guilty.

The trial comes a week after two Australian men were among eight drug convicts—seven of them foreign—executed in Indonesia, prompting Canberra to recall its ambassador from Jakarta.

Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 34, went before a firing squad despite pleas for mercy from Australia.

China has strict laws against drugs smuggling, and rights groups say it executes more people than the rest of the world combined, although official figures are not released.

A Japanese man was put to death by China for drugs offenses last year, according to Tokyo’s diplomats and media reports.

Four other Japanese were executed in China in 2010 for carrying illegal drugs.

China also put to death a Filipina drug trafficker in 2013, the Philippine foreign department said, ignoring Manila’s request to spare her life.

AFP

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