Author Topic: Britain hauls in ambassador after execution of Akmal Shaikh  (Read 122 times)


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Britain hauls in ambassador after execution of Akmal Shaikh
« on: December 30, 2009, 12:57:35 AM »
A diplomatic row erupted between London and Beijing after China rebuffed last-minute clemency pleas from Gordon Brown and executed a Briton convicted of drug smuggling.

In the worst spat for many years, Britain summoned the Chinese Ambassador to London and told her that her country had failed in its basic responsibilities on human rights.

As soon as news of the execution broke, Mr Brown lashed out at Beijing. “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.”

China was quick to retaliate. Jiang Yu, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said: “Nobody has the right to speak ill of China’s judicial sovereignty. We express our strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition over the groundless British accusation. We urge the British side to mend its errors and avoid damaging China-British relations.”

Shaikh was executed yesterday morning in the western Chinese city of Urumqi despite repeated appeals — from the Prime Minister, Shaikh’s family and the British charity Reprieve — for China to show mercy to a man thought to have been mentally ill.

The 53-year-old former taxi company manager from Kentish Town, North London, was executed at 10.30am (2.30am GMT). Chinese officials did not say how Shaikh had been put to death. However, increasing numbers of executions in China are carried out by lethal injection rather than by firing squad, and it is the method usually employed in such well-reported cases.

A reporter who tried to reach the Xishan detention centre where Shaikh had been held was stopped by police but was told that all executions in Urumqi were now carried out by lethal injection.

Shaikh learnt his fate only 24 hours before the execution from his two cousins, Soohail Shaikh and Nasir Shaikh. The brothers had travelled to China to make one final appeal to the Government to spare him.

They were the first family members to visit Shaikh since he was arrested in Urumqi in 2007 in possession of more than 4kg (8.8lb) of heroin. He was given a half-hour trial last year and sentenced to death. That penalty was upheld by the Chinese Supreme Court.

Within hours of the execution, Shaikh was buried in a Muslim cemetery in Urumqi, the capital of China’s only Muslim majority region. His funeral took place before sundown, in accordance with Muslim practice.

Family, supporters and the British Government had all appealed for clemency on the ground that Shaikh was suffering from bipolar disorder — also known as manic depression — and had lost touch with reality. Shaikh had believed that he had been travelling to China to record a hit single that would usher in world peace. He had been homeless in Poland when he was approached by two men who duped him into taking the drugs to China, supporters said.

The family of the father of three voiced their grief and asked to be left alone to mourn. The two cousins issued a statement, saying: “We are deeply saddened, stunned and disappointed at the news of the execution of our beloved cousin, Akmal.”

The diplomatic row quickly gained momentum. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office summoned Fu Ying, the Chinese Ambassador, to voice its anger. Ivan Lewis, the Foreign Office minister, said after the meeting: “I had a difficult conversation with the Chinese Ambassador today. I made clear that the execution of Mr Shaikh was totally unacceptable and that China had failed in its basic human rights responsibilities in this case.”

He echoed the family’s complaint that the courts had not taken into consideration representations about Shaikh’s mental condition. He made clear that Britain expected robust exchanges and was disappointed that its many appeals had been ignored.

“It is an important element of a mature bilateral relationship that we are able to speak frankly about issues on which we disagree and that those concerns are heard,” he said.

China remains adamant that the actions of its court were just. The country executes more people each year than the rest of the world combined.

The Supreme Court said that the death sentence was correct and evidence of mental illness was insufficient. Justifying its decision, it said: “To use the death penalty for extremely threatening and serious crimes involving drugs is beneficial to instilling fear and preventing drug crimes.”

It said that no documents provided by the British Embassy or by other organisations, or by Shaikh himself, proved that he had a mental disorder. “There is no reason to cast doubt on Akmal Shaikh’s mental status.”

But David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said that Shaikh, who moved to Britain from Pakistan as a boy, was a victim of the drug trade. “This is not about how much we hate the drug trade. Britain as well as China [is] completely committed to take it on. The issue is whether Mr Shaikh has become an additional victim of it,” he said.


Re: Britain hauls in ambassador after execution of Akmal Shaikh
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2009, 12:38:19 PM »
no real grounds for complaint here imo. you go to another country, you play by their rules. legal system is too relaxed in most western countries, prisons full, costing taxpayers mucho $$. etc.