Page last updated at 18:33 GMT, Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Akmal Shaikh's family 'outraged' over China execution

Akmal Shaikh
Akmal Shaikh was arrested in 2007

The family of a British man executed in China for drug smuggling has expressed "outrage and shock" at the legal proceedings that resulted in his death.

Akmal Shaikh, 53, a father-of-three from London, died on Tuesday despite claims that he was mentally ill.

In a statement, his family said China's officials had "made a mockery of appeals for clemency" and ignored pleas for a mental health assessment.

Britain has condemned the execution but China rejects the criticism.

After the execution by lethal injection, the Chinese Embassy in Britain said Mr Shaikh's rights "were properly respected and guaranteed" and British concerns were "duly noted and taken into consideration".

Akmal Shaikh's cousin, Nasir Shaikh: "We would like the Chinese authorities to know our anger and disgust"

Beijing says Mr Shaikh was caught with more than 4kg of heroin in the north-western city of Urumqi in 2007.

He had denied all knowledge of the drugs, and his daughter had said drug smugglers in Poland convinced him they would make him a popstar in China.

The legal charity Reprieve has said a report from a consultant forensic psychologist diagnosed Mr Shaikh with bipolar disorder and delusional psychosis.


"We firmly believe Akmal should not have been killed by the Chinese - he was vulnerable and mentally unstable man, yet he received no mental health assessment by the Chinese authorities at any stage during the proceedings," the statement from the Shaikh family said.

China executed 1,718 people in 2008, according to Amnesty International
Last year 72% of the world's total executions took place in China, the charity estimates
The penalty applies to 60 offences, including non-violent ones such as tax fraud and embezzlement
Those sentenced to death are usually shot, but some provinces are introducing lethal injections

"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.

The Shaikh family also said it was "particularly distasteful" that judges at an appeal hearing laughed openly at Akmal's rambling speech as he pleaded for his life.

The family also called on the Chinese authorities to apologise for the execution.

Separately, Mr Shaikh's cousins - who had made a failed last-minute attempt to plead for his life in China - expressed their "anger and disgust" at the execution.

After flying back from China to Britain, they said the decision "had already been made" when they were appealing for clemency.

They said Mr Shaikh's clothes had been laid out for collection when they met him for the last time.

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