UK & World News

  • 19 December 2013, 1:38

Family Refused Access To Briton Killed In Syria

Relatives of a British doctor who died whilst in the custody of the Syrian regime have said authorities have refused to give them access to his body for repatriation.

The mother and a brother of Dr Abbas Khan, 32, travelled to Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon in an attempt to bring his body back to England.

They asked Syrian authorities to bring his body to the border but the regime has, so far, refused.

The family are anxious about going into the country as they fear for their safety after Dr Khan was held for more than a year and "mistreated" by the regime.

Sara Khan, the sister of Dr Khan, told Sky News: "The Syrians will only allow us access if we are accompanied by a team of coroners who can carry out a post mortem.

"This could take us days to arrange."

The Khan family are desperate to get his body home in order to get an autopsy carried out by people they trust and also to give him a proper Islamic burial.

Islamic law dictates that a Muslim should be given funeral rights as soon as possible and the family are becoming increasingly concerned about the time that has elapsed since Dr Khan died.

Dr Khan was expected to be released within days when he was found dead in his cell.

The Syrian regime has claimed he committed suicide and a state news agency reported the cause of death was "asphyxia caused by hanging".

But his family have questioned why, after enduring months of alleged abuse, he would have killed himself when he was expecting to be allowed to return home.

Dr Shahnawaz Khan, another brother of Dr Abbas Khan, told Sky News he believed "the Syrians don't want to release my brother's body in fear of the backlash they may face".

"Also, I presume his body will be mutilated in order to meet the story they are disseminating," he added.

The family are hoping that the body of Dr Khan can be bought to the border with Lebanon and then flown by Red Cross to Egypt and on to the UK from there.