British citizen Akmal Shaikh executed in China

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London/Beijing, Dec.29 (ANI): A British man arrested in China on drug smuggling charges has been put to death, the Briitsh Foreign Office has confirmed.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned the execution of Akmal Shaikh "in the strongest terms" saying he was "appalled and disappointed that London's persistent requests for clemency had not been granted."

According to The Telegraph, Shaikh, 53, was shot in the head in Urumqi, the capital of the far western Xinjiang region, at 10:30 a.m. local time after China's Supreme Court rejected a bid for clemency.

His family, the British government and the British human rights charity Reprieve had been campaigning until the last minute for Shaikh to be spared the death penalty, but China refused to bow to international pressure.

Shaikh's supporters said the father-of-three suffered from bipolar disorder and that his illness should have been a mitigating factor in his sentencing.

But China defended its use of capital punishment and said the evidence of Shaikh's mental illness was "insufficient".

Shaikh is the first national from a European Union country to be executed in China in 50 years, according to Reprieve.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown repeatedly raised Shaikh's case with China's leaders and appealed for clemency, but to no avail.

Reacting to news that the execution had been carried out, Mr Brown said: "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."

Authorities in China have not yet announced that the execution has taken place.

Shaikh, from London, was arrested in September 2007 in Urumqi with four about nine pounds of heroin. Campaigners claimed a criminal gang duped him into carrying the drugs.

He was sentenced to death in December last year and lost his final appeal earlier this month in China's Supreme Court.

Two of Shaikh's cousins visited him in Urumqi on Monday and told him of his fate. (ANI)

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