Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Monday, 10 May 2010 18:41 UK

Acid attack survivor from east London 'wanted to die'

Awais Akram prior to the attack
Awais Akram says doctors told him he would not survive the attack

The victim of a horrific acid attack said it felt like his whole body was burning and he was in so much pain he wanted to die.

Awais Akram, 25, said "his whole body started to burn" after a noxious liquid was poured over his head and body.

Mr Akram suffered 47% burns and was left disfigured by the attack in Leytonstone, east London, in July 2009.

Mohammed Vakas, 26, of Walthamstow, north-east London, was found guilty of conspiracy to murder at the Old Bailey.

Vakas's cousin Mohammed Adeel, 20, of Walthamstow, and a boy, aged 17, were both convicted of conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm.

'Upsets me'

Speaking through an Urdu interpreter, Mr Akram said: "I thank God, I thank Allah, that I am still alive and that I have the support of everyone.

Whenever I am walking on the road, people are looking at me in the way that upsets me
Awais Akram

"Everybody has been praying for me. I know the doctors had said I would not survive," he added.

Mr Akram is being treated for his injuries by doctors at the Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, but has said he is not sure how much the scarring on his face can be repaired.

He described the discomfort he feels when he is seen in public.

"Whenever I am walking on the road, people are looking at me in the way that upsets me," he said.

Welfare concerns

Meanwhile, police said they feared for the welfare of the married woman at the centre of the case, who has disappeared in Pakistan.

Sadia Khatoon, 24, lured Mr Akram to the scene of the horrific incident.

But she has since disappeared and police have been unable to track down her or her husband, who are thought to have links in the Islamabad area of Pakistan.

Metropolitan Police undated handout photo of of the discarded acid bottle in Marchant Road, the location of the acid attack on Awais Akram

Asked if she thought Ms Khatoon was dead, Det Insp Jane Gyford, said: "One has to be concerned as to her welfare."

Ms Khatoon fled to Pakistan with her husband Shakeel Abassi, 32, the day after the attack, but stayed in contact with police while she was away.

She returned to the UK on 19 July 2009 and was met by officers at Heathrow Airport, before giving a statement about what she knew.

At that stage Ms Khatoon was considered a witness - before detectives found out more about her involvement and made her a suspect in the case.

While in Britain she stayed with her parents in Walthamstow, north-east London, and remained in touch with police on a daily basis.

Officers tried to provide her with protection and put her in contact with women's support groups.

But she turned down the offers and left Britain alone, on a quickly-arranged flight back to Pakistan, on 26 July and police have not been able to track her down since.



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