Jury: British doctor killed 'unlawfully' in Syria

AP News
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Posted: Oct 27, 2014 9:47 AM

LONDON (AP) — The family of a British doctor who died last year in a Syrian prison claimed vindication Monday after a jury determined that he had been unlawfully killed.

The case involves the death of 32-year-old orthopedic surgeon Abbas Khan in December, after he was taken into custody by Syrian authorities.

Following a two-week hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, the jury ruled that Khan had been intentionally killed without justification. His family has long claimed he was murdered.

Syrian officials had maintained, however, that Khan had hanged himself in his prison cell.

The dead man's brother, Alfroze Khan, said his family had waited nearly 12 months for this ruling.

"As a family we have always maintained that our brother was an innocent man," he said, adding that the family has "always maintained that he was mistreated, maltreated and tortured by the Syrian authorities and that he was murdered by the Syrians. Today our position as a family has been vindicated completely."

Lawyer Michael Mansfield, representing the Khan family, said the case should now go to the International Criminal Court for further action.

"What this jury has done is uncover the truth — that it was never suicide," he said.

Chief Coroner Peter Thornton said Khan had traveled to Syria to use his medical skill to help people there during the country's civil war.

There was no evidence presented during the hearing indicating that Khan had traveled to Syria to join forces with rebels fighting to remove the government of President Bashar Assad.

In a letter to Khan's grieving mother last December, British Prime Minister David Cameron called Khan's death "a sickening and appalling tragedy" and said the Syrian regime had to answer for it.