c. 560 B.C.E.: Aesop, fabulist 1957: Václav Mrázek, Czech serial killer

2009: Akmal Shaikh, mentally ill drug mule

December 29th, 2009 Headsman

This morning, China confirmed (to London’s fury) the dawn execution of British national Akmal Shaikh.

As tweeted @executedtoday, Shaikh has been at the eye of a media firestorm the past week, though without himself being aware of his impending (and publicly announced) execution until family members who had raced to China to plead for mercy met with him within the past day.

“He was obviously very upset on hearing from us of the sentence,” said the clan’s post-meeting (under)statement.

The 53-year-old Shaikh had been homeless in Poland and apparently duped into schlepping some cargo to China as part of a wild goose chase to become a pop star and bring world peace.

In any case like this (and certainly on any blog like this), the mystery parcel invariably contains drugs, doesn’t it? In this instance, our courier was busted at Ürümqi airport with 4 kg of heroin, some 80 times China’s death-sentencing threshold. He swore he knew nothing about it.

If “carry suspicious package for shady central Asian contact to usher in Age of Aquarius” sounds a bit daft … well, mental illness was the basis of Shaikh’s family’s appeal for his life. Shaikh seems to have been severely bipolar and to “may also have … delusional psychosis.”

“Insufficient,” said China; it never gave him a formal psychological evaluation.

So this morning, Akmal Shaikh became the first European executed in China in some 50-plus years … and the lone casualty of a lonely quest to somehow save the world.

Update: China flexes its muscle in the diplomatic row: “We hope that the British side can view this matter rationally and not create new obstacles in bilateral relations.”

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Artists,Capital Punishment,China,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Diminished Capacity,Drugs,England,Execution,Milestones,Pelf,Ripped from the Headlines

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8 thoughts on “2009: Akmal Shaikh, mentally ill drug mule”

  1. Bill says:

    Mercy is reserved for people truly deserves it, and freedom of human should not be the consequence of bringing disaster or tremendous danger to millions of others. Western criminal law is not longer suitable in today’s environment where there are certain dangerous “human” whom should never be allowed to live in this peaceful world! I strongly support the court decision, does not matter it belongs to which country and this time lucky in China instead of Briton, give the maximum death penalty to drag criminals! It is ridiculous for Mr. Brown to ask mercy from the Chinese Govt., and himself should be aware that political system should not interfere with legal system of another independent country. I am wondering whether he was still thinking living in the 19th century and wish to start another Opium War?

  2. Headsman says:

    There was a fair bit of hay being made in the British press over the prospect of an execution by shooting — this article has a luridly descriptive lead — but the reports I’ve seen after the fact (Daily Mail, BBC, and a detailed account in the Guardian) have said it was by lethal injection. I suppose they all source to Chinese state media reports.

    We’ve covered the Chinese organ trade here before; has there been a specific report on that aspect with respect to Shaikh?

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