Mentally ill British man executed in China

Hotel News - 30/12/2009

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After several months of campaigning and complaint from family members and concerned onlookers, British citizen Akmal Shaikh has been executed in China after being arrested for smuggling drugs.

The act took place on Tuesday, despite the appeal by the British government not to conduct the execution. Although a large number of people are outraged by the decision to go ahead with the execution, China have defended their action, stating that they were simply following the law.

Akmal Shaikh was convicted of carrying around 8 pounds of heroin at the Urumqi Airport in September 2007. This is far in excess of the 50 grams threshold for the death penalty under Chinese law. However, Akmal Shaikh's supporters are outraged as they claim that he was mentally ill, a factor which was not taken into account by officials when he was sentenced.

In a recent press statement Prime Minister Gordon Brown commented that: "I ... am appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted. I am particularly concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken."

However, China has defended the execution in a statement, which was issued by the Chinese Embassy in London. The press statement revealed that: "Drug trafficking is a grave crime worldwide. The concerns of the British side have been duly noted and taken into consideration by the Chinese judicial authorities in the legal process, and Mr. Shaikh's rights and interests under Chinese law are properly respected and guaranteed."

While being saddened by the execution of this man, many people feel disappointed and even angered that appeals by the British government did not have an impact on China’s decision to execute. It seems as though their refusal to give ground on the issue may have gone some way towards damaging relations between the two nations.

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