Mentally ill Briton faces execution for smuggling heroin into China

By salviablue · Oct 12, 2009 · ·
  1. salviablue
    [h1]Mentally ill Briton faces execution for smuggling heroin into China[/h1]

    Lawyers warn that Akmal Shaikh, 53, who has delusional psychosis, could be shot dead in jail after reports that his second appeal has failed

    Hardcore-convicts-at-a-se-001.jpg Police show of a group of hardcore convicts at a sentencing rally in Wenzhou, China, 7 April 2004. Photograph: STR/AFP/Getty Images

    A British man is facing execution after being convicted of smuggling heroin into China. Akmal Shaikh, 53, from north London, was arrested after a suitcase he was carrying was allegedly found to contain 4kg of the drug, with a value of £250,000.
    Shaikh, who is said to be severely mentally ill, will become the first British citizen to be executed in China; his lawyers warn that he could be killed imminently by a gunshot to the back of his head. Foreign Office officials said there were reports last week that his second appeal had failed, but had yet to receive "official confirmation" or any news from the Chinese authorities.
    Emails seen by the Observer reveal that Shaikh was recruited in a sting operation involving criminal figures in Poland, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. His defence was that he was duped by the gang and had no knowledge of the drugs.
    Shaikh, who is married to an Englishwoman and has five children, genuinely believed the gang were his friends and were grooming him for pop stardom. In fact, say lawyers and friends, he was, and is, suffering from delusional psychosis.
    Despite being given evidence of his mental condition, the Chinese authorities have refused to conduct a psychological assessment of the Briton and did not take his mental illness into account.
    During a court appearance to plead his innocence, witnesses said that such was the incoherent nature of his 50-minute speech that those in the courtroom openly laughed.
    Actor Stephen Fry, who suffers from bipolar disorder, is among those supporting calls for the Chinese government to spare Shaikh's life. Gordon Brown is understood to have raised Shaikh's situation with the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, at the recent G20 summit in Pittsburgh, although British lawyers stress that more diplomatic pressure is urgently required.
    Clive Stafford-Smith, director of the legal charity Reprieve, which is representing Shaikh, said: "The latest reports from China are extremely worrying, and unless the serious mental issues affecting Akmal are considered he faces the possibility of a hollow-point bullet to the back of the head some time very soon."
    Shaikh, who is imprisoned in the isolated north-western city of Urumqi, was the victim of an elaborate ruse to exploit his mental condition, say his supporters. Yet only five years ago he appeared to have a stable life, running a successful successful minicab firm in Kentish Town with his wife. Shaikh's former solicitor said that as recently as 2003 Shaikh was a "charming and charismatic man".
    However, his mental state deteriorated sharply soon afterwards, said the solicitor, and the following year he left London for Poland, where he planned to set up an airline despite having no financial means. "By the time he went over to Poland you could not even sit down and have a conversation with him," said Shaikh's former solicitor.
    In Poland Shaikh's mental state worsened after a relationship with a new girlfriend foundered. Requesting anonymity, she said Shaikh began to act in a "really silly and crazy way" and cited such incidents as the time he sent her a fake letter claiming to show he had won £1m.
    Emails sent by Shaikh to the British embassy in Warsaw in 2007, when he appears to have been befriended by Polish heroin traffickers he met in the city of Lublin, expose his vulnerable state of mind. Among them are claims by Shaikh to have spoken to the angel Gabriel and how he could have prevented the 7 July bombings in London had he been allowed to hold a press conference in Lublin.
    Typical of the hundreds of emails he sent to embassy staff in Warsaw is one that states: "Hey old chap u have any marshmallows. i man luvly bonfire u must roast some marshmellows I mean that's NOrMal." Another reads: "There is no such thinG as an englishmaN I mean king harold got it smack bang center in the EYE. its just not cricket anymore."
    Some messages were sent to a group of 74 individuals and organisations including Tony Blair, Sir Paul McCartney, the Fathers 4 Justice campaign group, Scotland Yard, the BBC programme Top Gear and President George W Bush, who is referred to as "Bushie".
    But the emails also chart how Shaikh met the Polish criminals, in particular a character called Carlos with whom he claims to have composed a song and who promised Shaikh he could turn it into a hit record. Carlos told him he had excellent contacts in the music business and they would help him achieve success. In September 2007 Carlos paid for a flight for Shaikh to Kyrgyzstan.
    There, his passport was taken by some unnamed men, although Shaikh seems unperturbed because at that stage he believed he was on the brink of international fame and "would not need it".Shaikh's passport was later returned, along with a flight ticket to China, and he was introduced to a man called Okole who would escort him to Urumqi. Okole, according to Shaikh, ran a huge nightclub in China and promised the Briton that he could perform his song there.
    They left for China on 8 September 2007, stopping en route in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. In Dushanbe, Okole informed Shaikh that the British man would have to travel alone to China because there was only one seat left on the plane. Okole gave him a suitcase and promised to follow on the next flight. Shaikh landed in Urumqi airport on 12 September and was arrested after his suitcase was scanned.
    Shaikh is understood to have co-operated fully with the police, explaining that the suitcase did not belong to him and he had no knowledge of the heroin. He even organised a "sting" operation, telling officers to wait for Okole when he arrived from Tajikistan. Okole never turned up. "It is highly likely that these professional drug smugglers knew that he was suffering from a mental illness and could be readily manipulated," said Stafford-Smith.
    Two months after his arrest Shaikh was sentenced to death. The British government, however, was not told until almost a year later, in November 2008. Last May Shaikh's appeal against his sentence at the district court in Urumqi was rejected, leaving a final appeal in the Supreme People's Court to save his life, which is now reported to have failed. Prisoners can be executed "almost immediately" after a second appeal has been rejected.
    His brother Akbar said: "Akmal has struggled for many years with what we now know to be a serious mental illness. We are all very worried for his safety as we know he is unable to defend himself properly. He will be extremely disorientated and distressed. We are praying that the Chinese courts will see that he is not of sound mind and prevent his execution."
    Dr Peter Schaapveld, a London-based consultant clinical and forensic psychologist, said: "If this case occurred in Britain, mental health issues would be played all the way through the process: Should he be charged? Should be found guilty at all? Should his condition ameliorate the sentence?"
    Schaapveld flew to China five months ago to evaluate Shaikh's mental condition but the authorities refused to let him see the prisoner. However, foreign office officials were allowed to spend 15 minutes with Shaikh. From their description of Shaikh's behaviour, Shaapveld was able to deduce with "99% certainty" that he was suffering from a mental disorder that could either be bipolar or schizophrenia.
    A Foreign Office spokesman said that it strongly opposed the death sentence and had made strong representations in Shaikh's case.

    Mark Townsend Crime Correspondent

    The Observer, Sunday 11 October 2009

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  1. salviablue
    [h1]Bipolar Briton loses execution appeal[/h1]
    Ill: Akmal Shaikh could be executed within days

    A mentally ill British man could be executed in China within days after losing his appeal against the death sentence.

    Akmal Shaikh, 53, was arrested at Urumqi Airport with 4kg (8.8lb) of heroin in a suitcase.
    The father of five from Kentish Town, north London, is believed to have bipolar disorder.
    He claims he was duped into carrying the luggage by a man from Kyrgyzstan who said he could help him launch a career in the music industry.
    Earlier this week, prime minister Gordon Brown and foreign secretary David Miliband raised the issue with Chinese diplomats.
    Actor Stephen Fry, who suffers from the same depressive illness, has joined pleas saying: 'He has a history of extraordinary behaviour.'
    Amnesty International is now urging people to visit and write to the Chinese authorities, calling on the Supreme People's Court to prevent the execution.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009
  2. Seaquake
    British man said to be mentally ill executed in China

    A British man convicted of drug smuggling in China has been executed, the Foreign Office has confirmed. [imgr=white][/imgr]

    Akmal Shaikh, 53, a father-of-five from London, had denied any wrongdoing and his family said he was mentally ill.

    The execution took place despite repeated calls from his family and the British government for clemency.

    British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was "appalled and disappointed". Mr Shaikh's family thanked those who had tried to help.

    Mr Shaikh is the first EU national to be executed in China in 50 years.

    British diplomatic sources say it is likely he died by lethal injection.

    His body will not be repatriated to the UK, but as a Muslim he will be buried within 24 hours.

    Mr Shaikh's family said he suffered from bipolar disorder.

    They said he had been delusional and duped into a carrying a suitcase that did not belong to him when he was found with 4kg of heroin in Urumqi, north-west China, in September 2007.

    In a statement, Mr Brown said: "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."

    'Inadequate interpretation'

    Foreign Secretary David Miliband also condemned the execution.

    He said the UK was opposed to the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, but also "deeply regretted" that his specific concerns in this case, including "mental health issues, and inadequate professional interpretation" had been ignored.

    The legal charity Reprieve had taken up Mr Shaikh's case for the family.

    Through the charity, the family issued a statement thanking all those who tried to help including Reprieve, the Foreign Office, those who attended a vigil outside the Chinese embassy in London, and the organisers of a Facebook group calling for clemency.

    They asked for privacy "as they come to terms with what has happened to someone they loved".

    Katherine O'Shea, Reprieve's communications director, said it was "devastated" Mr Shaikh had been killed.

    "That such a thing can happen in this day and age is really something that should alarm all of us," she said.

    "This guy was a very vulnerable person, extremely ill. He slipped through the cracks of society, and he was frankly failed by China and by their legal system. And it's an absolute disgrace that he should have been killed."

  3. cra$h
    Re: British man said to be mentally ill executed in China

    killed for carrying heroin across a border? Somethings fucked up. This man did not personally destroy lives, and who knows, for some he could be a life saver! Never mind he had a mental illness, but the fact that a drug mule was put to death is injustice in itself. And the article should have brought that up as well
  4. SullyGuy
    Re: British man said to be mentally ill executed in China

    note to self: stay the fuck out of china

    thats absolutely absurd... does the government not pause to think about the outrage that could spark?
  5. _drac_
    Re: British man said to be mentally ill executed in China

    unfortunately, China knows well,
    that the western society shits on the death of a man with 4 kg heroin.
  6. adzket
    Re: British man said to be mentally ill executed in China

    swim feels bad for this man and there family, but swim lso thinks back we as in the british are the ones who brought herion, and opium to the world, plus also they hae bi-polor disorder and even when not medicated and very manic or very low would still know what was what it is no exscuse realy, 4 kg is alot it is not a few grams for ones own use which swim would not risk carring to countrys with death penatly's there is no neeed for such nievaty this day in age. if ones mential issues where so bad that one could not look after them selfs like swim has been, you would be forceably hospitalised, so the care system, police ect in this country hae fucked up in first place by not putting him in protectie custody.
  7. Scarface88
    Re: British man said to be mentally ill executed in China

    The fact that "Reprieve" were handling the families case rather than the British government itself speaks volumes.

    If Mr Brown wanted this man saved, he would have had him saved, even if it meant deploying agents or troops to retrieve Mr Shaikh.

    Unfortunately, I suspect our government was merely EXPRESSING its concern whilst FOCUSING on an array of other issues, like "Climate change", banning ceilings incase they fall down, and wondering how much of the taxpayers money they could spend on rolls of red tape in 2010.
  8. chillinwill
  9. Zentaurus41
    Re: British man said to be mentally ill executed in China

    Game over man, game over.

    Being mental ill isn't really an excuse for smuggling drugs.
    Then again you have to be retarded to smuggle drugs into that country.
    Swim had a friend who was going to smuggle drugs out of Thailand.
    All swim could think of was what a stupid twat.

    They are certain places in the world you shouldn't fuck around with drugs, because
    they will either throw you in jail for 50 year or put a bullet into the back of your head.
    Its his own fault, you must be super carefull over there.

    Swim dont get this whole "British" thing either.
    He wasnt born here, he came to the country at the age of 11.
    It woudnt surprise swim if skin colour or religion played a part in the guy being executed, he was a muslim right.
  10. sunyata
    Re: British man said to be mentally ill executed in China

    That would be an act of war against the chinese. Not a smart move to make.
    Especially considering that the british started two wars against the chineses to keep shipping opium into their country. And back then they didn´t have nuclear weapons.

    It is tragic that someone lost their life (again) in the drug war, but starting ww3 to save him would have been a much bigger tragedy.
  11. Scarface88
    Re: British man said to be mentally ill executed in China

    I don't think it would go as far as an act of war. China is a cold front when it comes to relations with us anyway - i'd class ignoring our pleas and executing one of our nationals with little or no professional advice a bigger act of war. The United Kingdom needs to learn to stick up for itself a little more - they won't pay hostage ransoms for British nationals yet they don't mind shipping millions of pounds away per year on overseas "aid" projects. It's a false economy, the British one.
  12. slicedmind
    Re: British man said to be mentally ill executed in China

    So what exactly are you trying to say here?

    That mental illness isn't an excuse for drug smuggling, but then again the only excuse for drug smuggling is mental illness?

    One of the major points about this whole episode is China's lack of understanding of mental illness. Just because SWIY doesn't understand mental illness does not mean you have the right to comment on it as if it were all a big hoax, it just means that you haven't done your homework and should reserve judgement until you have.

    Whether this man was indeed suffering from mental illness is unclear, and reports are based on anecdotes from family and friends.

    In a system where you punish certain offenses with the death penalty (incidentally, some offences which would not always even necessitate a prison sentance in some western countries the majority of forum users will be lucky enough to reside in), and where the justice system fails to take mental health concerns seriously, it stands to reason that eventually people will be put to death for commiting offences they were mentally unable to comprehend. Whether this was the case in this instance or not it is more than likely that it has already happened and that we are only becoming aware of how a vulnerable, ill person may be caught foul of this system because it it happening to someone of western origin.

    All we can hope to come of this is a heightened awareness of China's human rights record and understanding of mental health, with the hope that the western world can influence some change in policy which will put this disregard for life to an end.
  13. MiMoMo
    Curious how the Chinese 'authorities' handle the valise with 4 keys of smack. What constitutes proper disposal of such evidence? Mules are disposable and he appears a goner. The gear, now that's valuable and probably a keeper, eh?
  14. Zentaurus41
    Swim laugh`s at the hypocrisy of the uk government, I don't see Gary McKinnon been given any leniency and he is BRITISH. Unlike this other guy who wasnt even born here, yet the goverment want to save him. Yet it seems everyone tries to use the mental excuse now a days.

    As for the government moaning about being against the death penalty, I didn't see anyone step in to save Saddam Hussein, nope not one person was against his death.
    But I guess it all just depends on who they are hanging.

    Swim is all for the death penalty, if the crime involves killing others.
    Swim would love to see this other chappy who tried to blow a plane up with a bullet in his head.
  15. tripolar
    SWIM can not help but see a few inaccuracies in SWIY comment.

    1. Gary McKinnon's case attracted huge attention. And because of that he is still in the UK

    2. SWIM does not understand why not being born in the UK while still being a BRITISH citizen should make any difference to how he is treated. Immigrant or not, we are all BRITISH and deserve same treatment.

    3. There have been many studies, disputes and discussions on WHY death penalty does not work.

    SWIM is sad to hear that SWIY would like to see anyone with a bullet in his head without knowing enough of the story.
  16. Zentaurus41
    Well from what i have been reading its a lot harder for a person from the USA to be deported to the UK. But the UK will pretty much hand over anyone to the USA with less fuss.

    From what swim has read Gary McKinnon keeps on appealing and he keeps on losing. Swim gets the impression the UK wants to send him to the USA no matter what.

    Sorry swim should of been more clear, swim was talking about Farouk Abdulmutallab who tried to blow up a plane. He is very guilty, he was caught red handed with a failed explosive device.Isnt this good reason enough to execute him ?

    Swim says get intelligence before they put him down.

    But swim bets if he was busted in Britain then he would probably be given a ps3 and a nice cosy cell at some holiday camp.

    Swim doesn't agree with the death penalty for drugs, but as swim said you shouldn't fuck around in countries that do have the penalty.
  17. slicedmind
    And how many people do you think 4 kilos of heroin would have killed?

    At half a gram for a lethal dose (a stingy estimate) potentially 8000, right?

    The inconsistencies in your argument (if it can be called an argument) just get weirder and weirder.
  18. Zentaurus41
    Would that amount of Heroin actually killed that many people ?

    Swim think`s the drugs may of caused some harm and possible
    caused and increase in crime. But cant the same be said of all drugs
    if you leave them in the hands of the criminal gangs.

    Blowing up a plane and selling drugs are two different things.
    Nobody forced the drug use to shoot up.

    Swim guess its all down to circumstances, but hey swim is just pissed off with the UK criminal system.
    Swim think`s drugs should be legal and crimes such as mugging, rape, killing burglary should be met
    with the harshest penalties possible. Instead of just sending people to holiday camp.

    Life don't mean life in the uk.

    Swims not trying to be an ass, he just just pissed of at the uk and the do
    gooder attitude and corruption that the labour government has brought.​
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