China Executed British National for Drug Trafficking

A British immigrant, reportedly mentally unstable, was executed Tuesday, December 29, after being convicted for drug smuggling, BBC reported.akmal-shaikh-china-executed

Akmal Shaikh, 53, was said to be suffering from the mental problem of bipolar disorder. This prompted clemency support from various organizations like the United Nations, Amnesty International and Reprieve (who used the picture at left for clemency campaigns).

The British government made 27 official representations to the Chinese government. Prime Minister Gordon Brown himself has written and personally pled the case on several occasions.

The Chinese Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentence stating that there was no sufficient evidence that Shaikh had a mental disorder.

Shaikh was apprehended in Urumqi airport in September 2007 after it was found out that the suitcase he was carrying contained 4 kilograms of heroin. Chinese law dictates that anyone carrying at least 50 grams of drugs will be sentenced to death. Shaikh claimed that he was duped into carrying the suitcase by a group who promised to make him a pop star.

Shaikh was born in Pakistan but migrated with his parents to the United Kingdom during his childhood. He was the first European to be executed in China in 50 years. He was also a Muslim, therefore, his body will not be returned to Britain as it is needed to be buried within 24 hours.

Last year, China executed 1,718 people, which is 72% of the world total. Death sentences are usually carried out by shooting though some provinces already practice lethal injections.