December 22, 2013
David Cameron has written to the mother of a British doctor who died in custody in Syria, describing his death as “a sickening and appalling tragedy”. Dr Abbas Khan, 32, was on the verge of being released when his family were told of his death this week. His relatives have said he was the victim of a political murder, but the Syrian government have called his death suicide. His body was flown back to the UK today and will undergo a post-mortem examination. In a letter dated December 20, the Prime Minister told his mother, Fatima Khan, that he and his wife Samantha were “so very sorry” to hear of her son’s death.
He branded the regime’s treatment of Dr Khan “despicable” and claimed it was “utterly unacceptable” that the UK was not able to support him.
The orthopaedic surgeon from London was captured in November 2012 in the ancient city of Aleppo after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it transported his body from Damascus to the Lebanese capital Beirut, where it was received by his mother Fatima Khan and British officials.
Mrs Khan, who has “110%” refuted claims that he committed suicide, broke down in tears when the coffin arrived. Mrs Khan has categorically denied claims made by Syria’s deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad that he had killed himself. In the last few days the family revealed a letter in which the doctor expressed his optimism at being released, and his hopes of being home in time for Christmas.