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China upholds death sentence for British heroin trafficker

By Wang Fangqing     Dec 24, 2009 in Crime
Akmal Shaikh, a 53-year-old British man from London, will likely be the first British citizen executed in China in 50 years. Shaikh was found guilty of carrying drugs.
Shaikh will be put to death on Dec. 29 after the Supreme People's Court (SPC) denied claims he has a mental disorder, upholding a previous ruling that he be sentenced to death, according to the Guardian.
At a conference on Dec. 22, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu said the case was handled with extreme caution.
"We have informed the British side in a timely manner and arranged for consular access," she said.
Shaikh was arrested for carrying 4 kg of heroin on arrival at Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in 2007. He was sentenced to death Oct. 29, 2008, by a local court in the first trial.
His appeal was later dismissed by the SPC.
His daughter, Leila Horsnell, said her father was mentally ill and deserved to be spared. She told the BBC he was approached by drug smugglers in Poland who promised him to make him a popstar in China.
"I believe he genuinely thought that," she said.
The SPC, however, said there was no evidence showing Shaikh was mentally ill; he himself also admitted there is no family history of mental illness, according to the Chinese media.
Under Article 347 of China's Criminal Law, the death penalty is given to those found guilty of smuggling, trafficking, or transporting 50 grams of heroin or more.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had written to express his dismay over SPC's final sentence, said a Downing Street spokesman.
More about Shaikh, Heroin, China, Death, Sentence
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