Akmal Shaikh

Akmal ShaikhA British citizen executed in China

compiled by: 4WardEver UK
from various sources : June 2010

News updates on this case will be listed at the foot of this item

Akmal Shaikh was executed at 10.30am local time on December 29 in Urumqi, China. The Beijing regime’s ambassador to Britain, Fu Ying, was hauled into the Foreign Office hours after British-born alleged heroin smuggler Akmal Shaikh, 53, was executed by lethal injection in the city of Urumqi. He was the first European to be executed in China for more than 50 years.

It is believed Shaikh, who was homeless in Poland and suffering mental ill-health, was tricked into carrying drugs into China by a gang who convinced him he could become a pop star there.

Following the execution an angry Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis said it was “reprehensible” that Shaikh’s mental health had not been taken into account by China’s courts. He added: “It’s true he was found guilty of a serious crime but it’s equally clear that he had serious mental health problems. This execution makes me feel sick to the stomach.” The then British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said he was “appalled” at the execution.

But the Chinese government were unrepentant and said the 4kg of heroin that Akmal Shaikh was caught smuggling could have caused many deaths among its own citizens. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu said; “Nobody has the right to speak ill of China’s judicial sovereignty.

In December 2009 two of Akmal cousins, Soohail and Nasir Shaikh, issued a statement on behalf of the family praising the efforts of Gordon Brown, ministers and the human rights group Reprieve for their efforts. The letter shows that opinion within the Shaikh family was divided.

They accused most of the media of ignoring Akmal’s case until it was too late. “We were shocked that apart from Sky News, his case received only sporadic media attention during his two years in prison. Only when news was released of his eminent execution did it get the coverage it deserved.

Wouldn’t more media attention at an earlier stage have applied more pressure to the Chinese authorities? Wasn’t this lack of coverage an injustice in itself?”

In a statement issued by Reprieve, the family express their grief at the Chinese decision to refuse mercy, thanked all those who tried hard to bring about a different result, and ask the media and public to respect their privacy as they come to terms with what has happened to someone they loved.

Reprieve’s director Clive Stafford Smith attacked China’s handling of Mr Shaikh’s case. “Is the world somehow a better place today because China refused to show compassion for an obviously ill man? Of course not. China’s refusal to even allow a proper medical evaluation is simply disgusting,” Mr Stafford Smith said.

In a statement on their website Reprieve said: The most important issue in the case is Akmal’s mental health. The Chinese authorities originally indicated a willingness to allow him to be assessed by a local doctor, but the court subsequently refused. Reprieve immediately sought permission for British psychologist Dr Schaapveld to see Akmal, and paid for him to fly to China – where he too was inexplicably refused access.

Bi-polar disorder is an acute and debilitating disease and is described by the expert Dr Kay Jamison of John Hopkins University School of Medicine as “destroying the basis of rational thought.” Occasionally, severe episodes of mania or depression include symptoms of psychosis or psychotic symptoms. It is highly likely that these professional drug smugglers knew that he was suffering from a mental illness and could be readily manipulated.

Shaikh had no previous criminal record and had flown to China in the belief that he would become a pop star. Akmal was married with five children.


Follow-up News:

Akmal Shaikh relatives say Britain abandoned him to execution
30 December 2009

Akmal Shaikh’s final hours
29 December 2009

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