Syria says British doctor's family can probe death: report

18th December 2013, Comments 0 comments

The Syrian authorities have offered the family of a British doctor who died in their custody the chance to arrange an independent post-mortem examination, the BBC reported Wednesday.

President Bashar al-Assad's regime says that Abbas Khan, a 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon from south London, committed suicide but Britain has accused the authorities of "effectively murdering" him.

One of Khan's brothers said the offer was "frankly insulting", adding that the family just wanted his body to be brought home.

Khan travelled to the northern city of Aleppo last year to help civilians but was captured by the Syrian regime, and on Tuesday his family announced he had died in detention.

The BBC reported on Wednesday that Syrian authorities had made an offer for Khan's family to arrange a post-mortem to establish the cause of death.

However, the surgeon's brother Shahnawaz Khan said: "We do not want any more investigations -- we want his body to be released and brought home.

"The authorities allowing an investigation is... frankly insulting."

Khan had been working with London-based charity Human Aid UK to provide medical training to Syrian healthcare staff in Turkey before he crossed the border to Aleppo.

Khan's family said they were "shocked and devastated" at news of his death, as Syrian authorities had promised to release him this week.

In a statement, Human Aid UK also said it was "incomprehensible" that Khan would commit suicide just a few days before he was hoping to return home to Britain.

Jilu Miah, operations manager of the charity, said the team was "deeply saddened and shocked" at his death and paid tribute to Khan's "exemplary" work.

"A full investigation needs to be carried out to find out the circumstances of his treatment in detention and the reason behind his sudden death," Miah said.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said the doctor had hanged himself with his pyjamas.

However, junior Foreign Office minister Hugh Robertson said the regime in Damascus was responsible.

"There is no excuse whatsoever for the treatment that he has suffered by the Syrian authorities, who have in effect murdered a British national who was in their country to help people injured during their civil war," Robinson said Tuesday.

© 2013 AFP

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