Akmal Shaikh was a father of five children who suffered from severe mental illness. He was sentenced to death for drug offences in China.
Reprieve fought to save Akmal’s life, but the Chinese authorities ignored evidence of his mental illness and refused a full assessment of his capacity.
Akmal was executed at 10:30am on 29 December 2009.
Akmal Shaikh had a lifelong history of exhibiting bizarre behaviour. In the delusional belief that his song ‘Come Little Rabbit’ was going to usher in world peace and make him a huge pop star, Akmal traveled to China after being promised help with his music career. He was given a bag by a man who claimed to be in the music industry, but was unaware it contained 4kg of heroin. He was arrested by the Chinese authorities, tried and sentenced to death in December 2007.
Akmal was denied access to doctors who could have helped him, including Reprieve’s psychologist who was sent to assess his mental state. Statements from British Embassy staff and six other witnesses attesting to his mental illness were ignored by the Chinese authorities.
We are praying that the Chinese courts will see that he is not of sound mind and prevent his execution.
Akbar Shaikh, Akmal’s brother during the trial
Akmal cooperated fully with the police after his arrest – in his delusion, he genuinely believed that the man who gave him the bag would be on the next flight. He helped the police set up a sting operation to catch the man, but he did not show up.
The news of the death sentence did not reach Reprieve, Akmal or his lawyer in China until 10 months later in October 2008, perhaps not coincidentally after the Beijing Olympics had come to a close and were hailed a great success.
During the struggle to save Akmal from execution Reprieve’s investigators took witness statements from those who knew him – one said:
“He seemed crazy to me. He was severely mentally disturbed”.
In a shocking failure of the Chinese legal system, the authorities pressed ahead with the execution of a severely mentally ill man.
Akmal’s tragic execution shows why Reprieve work is so vital. There are many more prisoners who still need our help.
China's Supreme Court ignored advice from their own panel of experts in executing Akmal Shaikh; new letter from Akmal to Reprieve reveals major flaws in trial
The family of Akmal Shaikh have today written to the British Government urging them to order an immediate inquest into his death in China.
AKMAL SHAIKH EXECUTED this morning at 2.30am GMT; Reprieve appalled at the failure to allow the most basic due process in the face of overwhelming and unrebutted evidence of his mental illness
Akmal Shaikh’s execution was carried out this morning at 2.30am GMT. Reprieve is appalled that no mercy was shown to a man who was clearly mentally ill.
NEW EVIDENCE emerges in the Akmal Shaikh case showing his illness; Reprieve makes new application to the Chinese authorities
As the hours count down to his execution, witnesses have surfaced in Poland attesting to Akmal Shaikh's mental illness, and his obsession with recording the song that will usher in world peace.
British woman offers her savings for a reprieve for Akmal Shaikh; British government place new evidence developed today before Chinese authorities
Akmal Shaikh’s execution is set for 10.30am on Tuesday morning, Urumqi time (2.30am GMT). It is now less than nine hours away.