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China reacts to criticism of execution

BEIJING, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" over British criticism of the execution of an accused drug smuggler, while Chinese legal experts defended the action.

China Tuesday executed by lethal injection Akmal Shaikh, 53, a British man convicted of smuggling heroin into China. He had denied the accusation and his family, who said he was mentally ill, had pleaded, along with the British government, for clemency.

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Shaikh was executed after approval from China's Supreme People's Court, which found the documents provided by the British embassy and a British organization could not prove he had a mental disorder, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The execution was widely condemned in Britain. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was disappointed that "our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted" and he was "particularly concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken."

"Such accusation was groundless, to which China expressed its resolute opposition," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. "We urge the British side to correct its wrongdoing to avoid causing damages to bilateral relations."

Criminal law Prof. Wang Mingliang at Fudan University in Shanghai told Xinhua the death sentence was legitimate under Chinese law and had nothing to do with human rights concerns.

"Some Western countries also retain capital punishment, and its existence does not equate to a lack of human rights," he said.

"It's human nature to plead for a criminal who is from the same country or the same family, but judicial independence should be fully respected …," criminal law Professor Xue Jinzhan at East China University of Political Science and Law was quoted as saying.

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