Akmal Shaikh case: The reaction to his execution

Akmal Shaikh execution reaction:

Prime Minister Gordon Brown:
“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 Mr Shaikh's family and friends and I send them our sincere condolences."

Conservative leader David Cameron:
“I deplore and deeply regret the fact that the Chinese authorities have executed Akmal Shaikh and did not heed the pleas for clemency made in his case by the British government, by the opposition parties, by his family and by others. There were serious concerns about Mr Shaikh's mental health. It is appalling that these concerns were not independently assessed during the more than two years Mr Shaikh was in custody and taken properly into account in the judicial process.”

China's foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu:
“Nobody has the right to speak ill of China’s judicial sovereignty. We express strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition over the groundless British accusations. We hope that the British side can view this matter rationally and not create new obstacles in bilateral relations.”

Statement in China's embassy in London:
“Akmal Shaikh was convicted for serious drug trafficking. The amount of heroin he brought into China was 4,030 grammes, enough to cause 26,800 deaths, threatening numerous families.
According to the Chinese law, 50 grammes of heroin is the threshold for death penalty. It is important that the independence of the Chinese judiciary be respected.
During the legal process, Mr. 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. Out of humanitarian consideration, visas were granted to the two cousins of Mr Shaikh on Boxing Day, and they were given access to meeting Mr Shaikh in China. As for his possible mental illness which has been much talked about, there apparently has been no previous medical record.
Drug trafficking is a grave crime worldwide. In China, given the bitter memory of history and the current situations, the public has a particular and strong resentment towards it.
In a recent web survey, 99 percent of the public support the decision of the Court. In China the conditions are not there for abolishing the death penalty. But it is applied in a cautious manner and limited number, all such cases are reviewed by the Supreme Court. The legal structures of China and UK may be different, but it should not stand in the way of enhancing our bilateral relations on the basis of mutual respect.”

Leilla Horsnell, Mr Shaikh's daughter:
“I am shocked and disappointed that the execution went ahead with no regards to my dad’s mental health problems, and I struggle to understand how this is justice.”

Statement from Mr Shaikh's cousins Soohail and Nasir, who travelled to China this week:
“We find it ludicrous that any mentally ill person should be expected to provide this, especially when this was bipolar disorder, in which we understand the sufferer has a distorted view of the world, including his own condition. That this was regarded as sufficient grounds for refusal by the judicial authorities to order any mental health assessment is shocking to us.”

Foreign Secretary David Miliband:
“Our specific concerns were not taken into consideration. These included mental health issues and inadequate professional interpretation during the trial. I oppose capital punishment in all circumstances. Along with every EU country it is banned in Britain. But not every country agrees. That's their prerogative. This is not about who hates drug running the most. We all do. It is about whether a man with a mental health condition has become an additional victim of the deadly trade.”

Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International:
“Under international human rights law, as well Chinese law, a defendant's mental health can and should be taken into account, and it doesn't seem that in this case the Chinese authorities did so.”

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve:
“Sad to say I have watched six people die in execution chambers, and it is as ghastly as it is pointless. Is the world somehow a better place today because China refused to show compassion for an obviously ill man? Of course not. China's refusal to even allow a proper medical evaluation is simply disgusting.”


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