Syria doctor's family 'can investigate his death'

Abbas Khan Abbas Khan lived with his family in Streatham, south London

The Syrian government has told the family of UK doctor Abbas Khan it can send a team to Damascus to investigate his death.

Syrian authorities have said their post-mortem examination showed he killed himself while in detention.

But his family has said this is not credible as he was due to be released.

Mr Khan, an orthopaedic surgeon from south London who entered Syria to help civilians, was arrested 13 months ago.

Syrian authorities told the BBC that Mr Khan's family can arrange an independent post-mortem examination.

'Entered Syria illegally'

The government also said it would share the findings of its own post-mortem examination with the family.

The Syrian foreign ministry said the embassy of the Czech Republic has been given an expert report on the case of Abbas Khan who, the Syrian government claims, had "entered Syria illegally."

The ministry's statement, which was carried by the state news agency Sana, also quoted the country's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad calling on Britain to "stop using humanitarian cases for political purposes".

Mr Khan's family have previously said the doctor had been moved by the plight of refugees and worked in refugee camps in Turkey. He had not planned to go to Syria but travelled there to treat badly injured civilians.

The Syrian authorities clearly want to ease the tension which has erupted over the case of Abbas Khan.

What was intended as a goodwill gesture ordered by President Assad is now a political crisis with Britain, and a family tragedy.

Yesterday Mr Khan's family rejected as absurd the Syrian government's explanation that the British surgeon committed suicide.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told the BBC the government would share its autopsy with the family.

Today we were told the family could bring a team of its own choice to Damascus to carry out their own investigation.

They have rejected that offer, saying all they want now is to bring Abbas Khan's body home for burial.

Respect MP George Galloway, who has spoken to the Syrian authorities and was due to collect Mr Khan on Friday, said: "We know what the crime was: he was captured on the battle field in Aleppo. He had no right to be there.

"He was administering medical treatment in a war zone. This is obviously something that if he was captured he would be held for."

But he said Mr Khan was "elated" at the prospect of being reunited with his family.

A member of Mr Khan's family is expected to go to Damascus to collect Mr Khan's body when visa formalities are completed, the government said.

Mr Khan's brother Shahnawaz Khan said that the family just wanted his body to be released.

"We do not want any more investigations we want his body to be released and brought home," he said.

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

'Brutality' of regime

Sara Khan, the doctor's sister, told the BBC the Syrian authorities might allow her mother and brother Afroze Khan to go in on Thursday and the family was hoping Mr Khan's body would be released to them soon.

Mr Khan died days before he was expected to be released from jail.

A spokesman for David Cameron said: "The prime minister extends his sincerest condolences to Dr Khan's family. It is obviously a very difficult time for them.

"We have been in regular contact with them throughout Dr Khan's detention and we have also raised his case with the Syrian regime."

Mr Khan's brother, Shahnawaz Khan, said the family was ''proud that he died doing something that he believed in''

He said the doctor's death was "further evidence of the brutality of that regime".

Mr Khan, who worked at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in Stanmore, north-west London, was detained 48 hours after entering Syria last November.

He had been moved by the plight of refugees and worked in refugee camps in Turkey before travelling to Syria to treat badly injured children, his family said.

Mr Khan's brother said that it was "pure fiction" that Mr Khan had committed suicide as he had written to relatives saying he was looking forward to coming home for Christmas.

Professor Tim Briggs, a senior surgeon at RNOH, who trained Mr Khan as an orthopaedic surgeon before he left for Syria, said he was "committed to a career in orthopaedics" and had gone to the Middle East "to help others".

He had worked as a specialist registrar at the RNOH from 10 September to 3 October last year.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Office said that the doctor had been "in effect murdered" by the Syrian authorities and at best his death was "extremely suspicious".

Mr Khan has criticised the British government for not doing enough to secure his brother's freedom.

He said the Foreign Office had treated his case as if he was a "wayward traveller in Dubai being caught drunk".

The Foreign Office said it had "consistently sought" consular access to Mr Khan and information on his detention, directly and through the Russians, Czechs and others.

More on This Story

Syria conflict

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London

Weather

London

17 °C 12 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    Coming up 10:46: BBC London News TV

    Over the weekend, demonstrators congregated in Parliament Square. Alex Bushill will be bringing an update in the 13:30 BBC London News.

    Parliament Square
     
  2.  
    Fire alarm disrupts show 10:35:

    TV host Lorraine Kelly apologised to viewers this morning after her ITV show was pulled off air as a result of a fire alarm, Press Association reports.

    She and staff on the show had to file out of the studio at London's South Bank and the final few moments of the live edition of her Lorraine programme had to be replaced.

     
  3.  
    Lynda Bellingham remembered 10:20:

    Actress Lynda Bellingham, whose death at a London hospital was announced earlier, trained at London's Central School of Speech and Drama. On stage, she appeared at the Old Vic and the Royal Court and in the West End production of Calendar Girls.

    Lynda Bellingham starring in an Oxo advert

    Read her obituary here.

     
  4.  
    Engineering work 10:16:

    Trains are not stopping on the Bakerloo Line or Northern Line at Embankment, or on the Circle Line and Hammersmith And City Line Eastbound at Latimer Road, because of engineering works.

    For the latest travel news go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

     
  5.  
    News on the hour 10:00: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The headlines this hour include:

    • The head of palliative care at Public Health England has praised the actress Lynda Bellingham for speaking out about her terminal cancer in the run up to her death yesterday at the age of 66.
    • More needs to be done to support young Muslims who travel to Syria or Iraq but then realise they've made a mistake, according to a mother from London who travelled to Turkey to bring her son home.
     
  6.  
    Taarabt weight debate 09:52: BBC Sport

    Adel Taarabt is three stone overweight and unfit to play for Queens Park Rangers, claims manager Harry Redknapp.

    The Moroccan midfielder has not started for QPR since 27 August.

     
  7.  
    Diwali pictures 09:41: Josephine McDermott BBC News Online

    Sanjay Khetani tweeted us this picture of Willesden Temple, ready for the start of Diwali, or the "festival of lights" on Thursday.

    Willesden Temple

    Send us your pictures.

     
  8.  
    Warehouse fire 09:31:

    Thirty-five fire fighters are at a warehouse fire in Monier Road, Bow, says London Fire Brigade.

     
  9.  
    Angel fire alert 09:21:

    Northern line tweets: Angel station is currently closed while we respond to a fire alert.

     
  10.  
    Watch: Weather 09:11:

    Here's Kate Kinsella with today's forecast.

    Kate Kinsella
     
  11.  
    News on the hour 09:00: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    Richard Main has the BBC London 94.9 headlines at 09:00 including:

    • The actress and presenter, Lynda Bellingham, who had been suffering from cancer, has died at the age of 66.
    • London's leading housing associations are joining forces with the Mayor this week to launch a campaign to get more Londoners on the housing ladder through shared ownership.
     
  12.  
    Cutty Sark damaged in fire 08:52:

    Famous 19th Century ship Cutty Sark was damaged in a fire in Greenwich yesterday.

    London Fire Officers attend Cutty Sark A small section of the hull on deck three was damaged in the latest fire

    A small part of deck three and the hull timbers were damaged, however firefighters managed to contain the blaze, London Fire Brigade said.

     
  13.  
    Latest headlines
     
  14.  
    Coming up 08:43: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    With Vanessa from 09:00, people who post abusive or threatening comments online are to face tougher sentences. The Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, has said internet trolls could face up to two years in prison. What do you think? Call 020 7224 2000.

     
  15.  
    London mother on Syria 08:35:

    A mother from north London whose son joined a militant group linked to IS in Syria has described how she travelled to Turkey and managed to persuade him to return home.

    London mother
     
  16.  
    Brad Pitt's Fury closes festival 08:23:

    Brad Pitt said he hoped his new film Fury recognised the trauma suffered by soldiers in World War Two as it closed this year's BFI London Film Festival last night.

    Brad Pitt on the red carpet with war veteran Peter Comfort Brad Pitt on the red carpet with war veteran Peter Comfort

    "War is hell," said Pitt, who plays a Sherman tank commander on a mission behind enemy lines in 1945.

     
  17.  
    Road reopens 08:15: Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    The A406 at Bounds Green has reopened following a burst water main yesterday.

    For the latest travel news go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

     
  18.  
    Train delays 08:06: Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    There are delays to Southeastern services from Charlton via Greenwich to London Bridge.

    For the latest travel news go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

     
  19.  
    Sunny intervals 08:02:

    It will be largely cloudy, with only limited bright or sunny intervals throughout the day.

    There will be some isolated showers, however most places will remain dry, but will become more breezy into the evening. Maximum temperature: 15C (59F).

     
  20.  
    Good morning 08:00: Josephine McDermott BBC News Online

    I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across the capital today for BBC Local Live.

    You can also send your news, pictures and comments to london.locallive@bbc.co.uk or Tweet @BBCLondonNews.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.