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China executes British man for drug smuggling

December 29, 2009 12:49 IST

China executed a British citizen convicted of drug smuggling on Tuesday, drawing a strong rebuke from Britain's prime minister who described it as "appalling".

Akmal Shaikh, 53, a father-of-five from London, had denied any wrongdoing and his family said he was mentally ill.

The execution took place in northwest China's Urumqi city despite repeated calls from his family and the British government for clemency.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "appalled and disappointed".

In a statement, Brown said: "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," he said while expressing condolences to Shaikh's family.

Shaikh is the first European Union national to be executed in China in 50 years. Shaikh's family thanked those who had tried to help.

His body will not be repatriated to the UK, but as a Muslim he will be buried within 24 hours.

China's supreme people's court said it had reviewed and approved the death sentence against Shaikh.

Shaikh was caught carrying over 4 kg of heroin at the international airport of Urumqi from Dushanbe, capital of Tajikstan, on the morning of September 12, 2007, it said.
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