London, Dec. 23 (ANI): The family of Akmal Shaikh, who is facing execution in China for trafficking drugs, has claimed that the British man was duped into smuggling heroin by gang who exploited his pop star delusion.
Shaikh is due to be executed on 29 December, but his brother Akbar Shaikh, 60, claimed: "I think he was exploited because of his mental situation."
Efforts to save the life of Shaikh, 53, have intensified after the Chinese Supreme Court rejected his plea for clemency and upheld the death sentence yesterday.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has written to the Chinese authorities pleading for the sentence to be set aside.
"The prime minister and foreign secretary have raised Akmal Shaikh's case with China's leaders on many occasions. Yesterday 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 Guardian quoted a Foreign Office statement, as saying.
A report from Dr Peter Schaapveld, a forensic psychologist, said it was probable that Shaikh's behaviour was "influenced or caused by" his mental illness.
As evidence of Shaikh's mental illness, his supporters have produced emails he was writing in the months before he went to China and sending to the British embassy in Poland.
Shaikh had decided he wanted to be a pop star, and had written and practised a song.
Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said: "The execution not only an affront to the human rights of mentally ill people, but [a display of] apparent ignorance of the impact that mental illness can have on a person's behaviour".
She added: "This makes them easy prey to criminals such as those who persuaded [Shaikh] that he could bring about world peace by recording his pop song in a remote province of China.
Shaikh was convicted in November 2008 of drug smuggling and sentenced to death. And his brother begged for his life, saying:
"We are begging the Chinese authorities to show compassion ... and mercy. Basically I'm here begging for his life to be spared." (ANI)