Family hit back at China over execution

THE family of an executed British man issued a bitter attack upon China yesterday as his cousins flew home after a failed attempt to plead for his life.

Akbar Shaikh, whose 53-year-old brother Akmal Shaikh was executed early yesterday morning, said they could “no longer remain silent” over claims made by the Chinese authorities.

Shaikh, who was convicted of heroin smuggling, was executed by lethal injection, in spite of pleas for clemency from human rights campaigners and the British government.

His cousins, Soohail and Nasir, have arrived back in Britain after their last-ditch pleas for clemency failed.

They also saw Shaikh, who was believed to be seriously mentally ill with bipolar disorder, for an hour and a half in prison.

Campaigners said an assessment of his mental health was not carried out for the Chinese courts.

His family yesterday singled out for criticism a statement from the Chinese Embassy in London which asserted that Shaikh had his rights and interests “respected and guaranteed”. They also attacked a further claim that he had no previous record of mental illness.

Shaikh said his brother had received no mental health assessment after he was arrested in spite of evidence of his vulnerability.

“We firmly believe Akmal should not have been killed by the Chinese – he was a vulnerable and mentally unstable man, yet he received no mental health assessment by the Chinese authorities at any stage during the proceedings against him.

“Various other evidence documenting his mental health, obtained in the UK and Poland, was simply not taken into account.

“We are outraged and shocked by this, and at the way the Chinese government have made a mockery of appeals for clemency on behalf of Akmal by our Hon Prime Minster Gordon Brown, the foreign secretary and foreign office ministers.

“When someone’s life is in question, it is simply not sufficient to issue a curt statement noting that British concerns were ‘duly noted and taken into consideration’.”

Some 27 separate representations were made at British ministerial level on Shaikh’s behalf to the authorities as intense efforts were made to spare his life.

Shaikh, from Kentish Town, north London, was convicted of smuggling 4kg of heroin into the country after his arrest in 2007.


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