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British drug smuggler executed after Supreme Court approval

Akmal Shaikh, a British national who was convicted of smuggling drugs into China, was executed by lethal injection today in Urumqi after approval from China's Supreme People's Court.

The SPC said today that it had reviewed and approved the death sentence against Akmal Shaikh.

Shaikh, 53, male, was caught carrying up to 4,030 grams of heroin at the international airport of Urumqi in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous from Dushanbe, capital of Tajikstan, on the morning of September 12, 2007.

Shaikh was sentenced to death in the first instance by the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi on Oct. 29, 2008 and his final verdict came in October after two failed appeals.

The SPC said in a statement that Shaikh had broken China's Criminal Law by smuggling huge amounts of heroin, and "the evidence was certain and the facts were clear."

His behavior constituted the crime of drug smuggling and the crime committed was extremely serious, the SPC said.

It said the sentence handed down by the Intermediate People's Court of Urumqi in accordance with Article 48 and 347 of China's Criminal Law was appropriate.

China's Criminal Law stipulates that people trafficking more than 50 grams of heroin are punishable by death.

Crimes concerning drugs had been universally recognized as serious criminal offences and had a severe negative social impact, said the SPC statement, adding the general public, in China and other countries, demanded severe punishment for such crimes.
China's Criminal Law stipulates that everyone was equal before the law and no one was permitted to transgress the law.

Criminals should all be punished according to law regardless of their nationality, SPC said.

Although China retained death penalty, it had exercised strict control over capital punishment, said the statement.

The application of death penalty for drug smugglers who caused serious social consequences would serve to deter criminals and prevent drug-related crimes, it said.

The SPC also said that the defendant's litigation rights and legitimate treatment had been fully granted in custody and trial.

Officials from the British embassy in China and a British organization had proposed a mental disease examination on Akmal Shaikh, but the documents they provided could not prove he had mental disorder nor did members of his family have history of mental disease, the SPC said.

Akmal Shaikh himself did not provide relevant materials regarding him having a mental disease, according to the SPC.

"There is no reason to cast doubt on Akmal Shaikh's mental status," the SPC said.


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