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December 30, 2009

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China opposes British stand on execution of heroin fiend

CHINA yesterday expressed its "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to Britain's criticism of its trial and execution of a British citizen for heroin smuggling.

Akmal Shaikh, 53, was executed by lethal injection earlier in the day in Urumqi, capital of China's northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, after approval from the Supreme People's Court.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reportedly contacted a senior Chinese leader in a bid to have the execution halted.

Yesterday, Brown said in statement that he was "appalled" at Shaikh's execution.

"Such an accusation was groundless ... we urge the British side to correct its wrongdoing to avoid causing damages to bilateral relations," Jiang Yu, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told a press conference in Beijing, stressing that the ties were vital.

Jiang said the case was an individual criminal case, and Chinese judicial authorities had always handled it independently and in accordance with China's law and legal procedures.

She said the defendant's litigation rights and legitimate treatment had been fully guaranteed in the trial.

'Evidence certain'

Shaikh was caught carrying more than 4 kilograms of heroin from Tajikstan at the international airport in Urumqi on September 12, 2007.

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

The Supreme People's Court said yesterday that Shaikh had broken China's criminal law by smuggling a huge amount of heroin, and "the evidence was certain and the facts were clear."

According to China's criminal law, people trafficking more than 50 grams of heroin face the death sentence in China.

Crimes concerning drugs have been universally recognized as serious offences and have a severe negative social impact, the SPC said.

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

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

Officials from the British Embassy in China and a British organization had proposed a mental-disease examination on Shaikh.

However, the documents they provided could not prove he had a mental disorder nor did members of his family have a history of mental disease, the SPC said.

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


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