China executes mentally ill Brit

Angry exchange of words between Beijing and London

China executes mentally ill Brit

 Gordon Brown and senior British politicians have angrily condemned China for executing a British man said to have had mental problems. Akmal Shaikh, 53, was put to death early on Tuesday morning after being convicted of drug smuggling.
Despite frantic appeals by the Foreign Office for clemency, Shaikh was executed. The father of three had been arrested in September 2007 and convicted of smuggling 4 kg of heroin into China. Campaigners believe he is the first European in 58 years to be put to death in China.

Amid an angry exchange of words between London and Beijing, the British prime minister said in a statement: “I condemn the execution of Akmal Shaikh in the strongest terms and 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. At this time our thoughts are with Shaikh’s family and friends and I send them our sincere condolences”.

The Chinese embassy in London said Shaikh, from Kentish Town, north London, had “no previous medical record” of mental illness. “During the legal process  Shaikh’s rights and interests were properly respected and guaranteed and the concerns of the British side were duly noted and taken into consideration by the Chinese judicial authorities.

Jiang Yu, a Chinese foreign ministry official, told a press briefing in Beijing: “No one has the right to comment on China’s judicial sovereignty. It is the common wish of people around the world to strike against the crime of drug trafficking.
“We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the British government’s unreasonable criticism of the case. We urge the British to correct their mistake in order to avoid harming China-UK relations.”

Britain had demonstrated its anger with Beijing over the treatment of Shaikh when it summoned the Chinese ambassador for a diplomatic dressing down.
In what was described as a “full and frank exchange of views,” the Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis asked Fu Ying for clemency and outlined Britain’s concern that China had not taken Shaikh’s mental health into consideration.
Lewis said that there had been 27 ministerial representations to China about Shaikh’s case in the last two years.

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