China defiant after Briton's execution

China remained defiant today in the face of condemnation from the UK Government and human rights campaigners over the execution of a Briton said by his supporters be suffering from mental illness.

The Chinese embassy in London said Akmal Shaikh, 53, from Kentish Town, north London, had “no previous medical record” of mental illness and that his rights and interests had been properly respected.

Shaikh, who was convicted of smuggling 4kg of heroin into the country, was executed in the early hours of this morning despite last minute pleas for clemency from his family and campaigners.

A statement from the Chinese Embassy said: “During the legal process, Mr Shaikh’s rights and interests were properly respected and guaranteed and the concerns of the British side were duly noted and taken into consideration by the Chinese judicial authorities.

“Out of humanitarian consideration, visas were granted to the two cousins of Mr Shaikh on Boxing Day, and they were given access to meeting Mr Shaikh in China.

“As for his possible mental illness which has been much talked about, there apparently has been no previous medical record.”

The statement was issued after Gordon Brown said he was “appalled” and “disappointed” by the execution and offered his condolences to the Shaikh family.

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