According to his family, the unfortunate man was 'duped' into carrying the drugs.
Well, that's possible. But a claim like that loses its potency when you remember that every single drug smuggler in history has claimed exactly the same. "Some people asked me to carry something for them - I didn't know it was drugs". Yeah, right.
And then there's the second claim, the great 21st century catch-all, dodge-the-blame statement: the perpetrator was suffering from mental illness. "Yes, he did commit the crime, but he's not right in the head, so he mustn't be punished". This particular get-out-of-jail-free card is getting pretty tatty, and is played with tedious regularity. "Not my fault: I'm mmmmad"
Hmmmm. According to Foreign Office Ivan 'everyone else is on holiday' Lewis, the Government made 27 representations to China in the last two years. 27.
But in spite of that, a report from the official Chinese news agency Xinhua said that China's Supreme People's Court had "not been provided with any documentation proving that Mr Shaikh had a mental disorder".
And the Chinese Embassy said "As for his possible mental illness which has been much talked about, there apparently has been no previous medical record."
Funny that, eh? 27 representations, and yet no proof of this alleged mental illness?
Sunny H at Liberal Conspiracy has a short bleat on the subject, but it's one of the comments there that caught CF's eye. Commenter Trofim claims to have had a career in psychiatry, and goes on to say:
".. I note that he was 53. A person with bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia would never reach the age of 53 without clinical intervention and would almost certainly have been hospitalised at least once.
He would certainly have been on some course of medication, but there is apparently no record of medical intervention at all.
He is said to have had hare-brained business ideas and unrealistic ideas about becoming a pop-star. But such people appear regularly on Dragons’ Den and the X-Factor. These are not necessarily evidence of mental illness."
Exactly. Just the same sad old story.