Australian sentenced to death for drug trafficking

BEIJING (AFP) – An Australian national has been sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking, in a ruling that could further inflame tensions between Beijing and Canberra.

Australia’s foreign ministry said it was “deeply saddened” by the verdict and reiterated the country’s opposition to capital punishment.

The man, named in Chinese pinyin as “Kamu Jielaisibi” and identified by Australian media as Cam Gillespie, was handed the death penalty by Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court on Wednesday, according to a notice posted on the court website.

The notice revealed no details about the defendant besides his Australian nationality.

According to Chinese local media, the man was arrested at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, northwest of Hong Kong, in December 2013 with more than 7.5 kilogrammes of methamphetamine in his checked luggage.

A spokesperson for Australia’s Foreign Ministry said consular assistance was being provided to the man, but they would not confirm his identity citing privacy obligations. “We are deeply saddened to hear of the verdict made in his case,” the spokesperson said, adding that Australia “opposes the death penalty, in all circumstances for all people.”

“We support the universal abolition of the death penalty and are committed to pursuing this goal through all the avenues available to us.”

China is Australia’s largest trading partner, as well as a major source of lucrative international students and tourists.