Family ‘tried to free Syria doctor’

Published: Monday 13th October 2014 by The News Editor

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The family of a British doctor who died in a prison in Syria made “superhuman” efforts to secure his release, an inquest into his death has heard.

A jury of seven men and four women was told by a coroner today of the steps the family took in the hope of winning freedom for orthopaedic surgeon Abbas Khan.

At the start of an inquest set to last around three weeks at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, chief coroner Judge Peter Thornton told jurors that the medic’s mother Fatima in particular had been “extraordinarily persistent”.

Dr Khan, a father of two from London, died while being held in custody by Syrian government officials last December.

He was captured in the city of Aleppo in November 2012 after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings.

His family claim he was murdered while being held. The Syrian government has always maintained Dr Khan killed himself and that he was found hanging in a jail cell.

The coroner said Dr Khan, aged 32, was found “allegedly hanged” while in custody in Damascus on December 16, 2013.

The jury would hear from the evidence that he was a “family man”, and also a “respected” medical man.

He added: “It is clear that he wanted to use his medical skills to help others, and that included helping others in conflict-torn Syria.”

The coroner said “things went wrong” on November 22, 2012. Dr Khan, who was working in a hospital, went out for a walk when he was detained and “was never a free man again”.

Just over a year later Dr Khan was found dead, he said.

” During that period of a year while in custody his family made superhuman efforts to try to get him released. In particular, his mother Fatima was extraordinarily persistent.”

The coroner said the main issues for the jury to consider after hearing all the evidence were likely to be – did Dr Khan take his own life, or was he “forced in some way by his captors to take his own life against his will”, or was he “unlawfully killed” by his captors.

Published: Monday 13th October 2014 by The News Editor

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