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Kentish Town man days away from being executed in China

PUBLISHED: 17:25 22 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:39 07 September 2010

The Prime Minister has urged the Chinese Government to grant a reprieve to a Kentish Town man, who is just days away from being executed. Akmal Shaikh, 53, who used to run a taxi business on Fortess Road is to be executed on December 29 after losing his f

The Prime Minister has urged the Chinese Government to grant a reprieve to a Kentish Town man, who is just days away from being executed.

Akmal Shaikh, 53, who used to run a taxi business on Fortess Road is to be executed on December 29 after losing his final appeal on Monday.

Mr Shaikh was arrested on September 12, 2007 in Urumqi, north-west China, and charged with drug smuggling but campaigners claim his mental illness has never been taken into account.

On Tuesday Gordon Brown joined a number of charities in asking the Chinese government to grant mercy to the Mr Shaikh.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have raised Akmal Shaikh's case with China's leaders on many occasions.

"On Monday, the Prime Minister wrote to express his dismay that Akmal Shaikh's sentence has been upheld by the Supreme People's Court.

"The Prime Minister has appealed to the Chinese government to show clemency."

The charity Reprieve has been campaigning for Mr Shaikh's release claiming it has medical evidence proving he suffered from a delusion that he was going to China to record a hit single. Once there he was duped by a criminal gang into unwittingly carrying drugs for them.

Reprieve's director Clive Stafford Smith said: "The prime minister should speak directly with [Chinese] President Hu, emphasise that Chinese compassion would be viewed as a great favour to the British people, and note the consistent view of Chinese and British doctors that a full mental health assessment is vital to assess how Mr Akmal's illness contributed to the offence."

Reacting to the news, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said: "This is terrible news for both Akmal Shaikh and his family. He will not have received a fair trial and it appears that evidence of mental illness has not been given due consideration. A case like this shows the true inhumanity of the death penalty.


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