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British man sentenced to death in China lost an appeal

A british man sentenced to death in China lost its appeal for a retrial yesterday. He was spotted carrying heroin worth £ 250,000 two years ago in Xinjiang airport, and sentenced to death months later.

This was one of the top stories in China yesterday. British media also gave it headline position, as Skynews.com listed it on its frontpage bulletin. This provoked some thinking.

The angle approached by British media was different from that of China’s media. China’s media talked about the criminal losing his appeal, as simple as that; but the British media started by talking about his family’s petition.

The family of a mentally ill Briton facing the death penalty in China have appealed for his life to be spared.

The convicted man Akmal Shaikh’s family stated that he had mental illness and the Chinese court should review his illness record before making any sentence. This case was said to be mentioned during the talk between British prime minister Gordon Brown and China’s President Hu Jintao at the G20 summit in London. The family’s petition, in my opinion, seemed to be adding pressure to the British government. The implicit message was that the trial was not fair, and reflected the problem of China’s human rights.

But Mr. Shaikh is a criminal, which is for sure. The British media didn’t want to be critised for taking the wrong side for speaking for a criminal, so their coverage was liminted, with not long articles and short video clips.

What’s interesting was that next day, some Chinese media exagerated the British media’s reporting, saying that this case had triggered waves of heated discussions in the UK. It now became so high-profile that the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated today that the courts had followed legal procedures during the trial, giving explanation on why the courts denied to review his illness record. (Even you are 100% sure that Mr. Shaikh used his so called “mental illness” as an excuse, you can not say that.)

So far there has been no reporting on this progress in the British media.

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