British Citzen Akmal Shaikh Dead in the Custody of China
New Delhi: Akmal Shaikh died on December 29, 2009 was a British national, born in Pakistan, who was convicted and executed in the People's Republic of China. U.K. Prime Minister Gorden Brown appeal from China for Akmal Shaikh. Akmal Shaikh, 53, from Kentish Town in north London, is due to be put to death at 10.30 am tomorrow after being convicted of smuggling 4kg of heroin. Two of his cousins have travelled to China to make a series of representations to the authorities, but his daughter Leilla Horsnell said today she was not optimistic.Mr Shaikh, who campaigners say has a mental illness, will apparently only discover he is being executed today, as the Chinese have kept his fate from him until 24 hours before it is due to happen on 'humanitarian grounds'. Ms Horsnell said she thought this was a good thing 'because I don't even think he would understand because we do not know how much his mental state has deteriorated'. She added: 'We do know in one of the appeals he insisted on giving his own statements and he could not even speak properly, and what he was saying was not making sense. 'And so I do not think him being told would mean anything or would... if anything, it might make it worse if he was aware of what was happening.' His cousins Soohail and Nasir Shaikh, from London, flew from Beijing to Urumqi in northwest China yesterday. They joined two British embassy officials to deliver pleas for clemency to Chinese president Hu Jintao and the Chinese courts. If they are allowed access to Mr Shaikh today they will become the first family members to have face to face contact in two years. Father-of-three Mr Shaikh was arrested in Urumqi in September 2007 and charged with drug smuggling. After being convicted he lost a final appeal last week, but campaigners claim his bipolar disorder has not been taken into account. A vigil will take place in London today outside the Chinese embassy in central London. The candlelit event is being organised by a group formed on Facebook called Stop The Execution Of Akmal Shaikh, which has more than 1,500 members. Spokeswoman Maya Farr said: 'Akmal's case has struck a chord with many people. 'We are appealing respectfully to the Chinese government to show mercy to Akmal, and spare his life. 'At the very least we believe there should be a stay of execution so that there can be a full assessment of his medical condition.' The group will deliver a letter to Ambassador Fu Ying which reads: 'We take the issue of drugs smuggling very seriously, but we believe there is considerable evidence that Akmal is mentally ill, and genuinely did not know that the suitcase he was duped into carrying contained drugs.' Clive Stafford Smith, director of legal charity Reprieve, which helped arrange visas for the cousins, said: 'I have been in constant contact with Akmal's family, and they are simply praying for a reprieve, fearing for the health of his mother, who is very frail.'
In his petition, Soohail says: 'We plead for his life, asking that a full mental health evaluation be conducted to assess the impact of his mental illness, and that recognition be made that he is not as culpable as those who might, under Chinese law, be eligible for the death penalty.' Akbar Shaikh, Akmal's brother, also says in a letter from the family to the Chinese president: 'We plead for mercy and clemency. 'We are not asking for special treatment for Akmal because he is British, but simply as a family who are devastated at the possibility of losing our son, our brother, our father, our cousin.' If the sentence is carried out, it would be the first time an EU national has been executed in China for 50 years. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: 'We have made representations at the highest possible levels.
'The Prime Minister wrote to the Chinese government on December 21 and the Foreign Secretary has also written. 'We have made our position to the Chinese authorities quite clear. 'The Prime Minister, ministers and other officials have been and remain closely engaged.' A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London said Mr Shaikh was found with more than 4kg of heroin, which he said was enough to kill 26,800 people. He said that, according to Chinese law, being caught with 50g of heroin was enough for the death penalty to be applied. 'Even in the UK, he would be punished severely for his crime,' he said. 'Drug trafficking is a grave crime worldwide.
'China has the bitter memory of drug problems in history, and is still facing severe situations at this moment, which undermines the social stability.