The same old story


There's been much feeble posturing and far-too-late huffing and puffing about the fate of Akmal Shaikh, executed on Tuesday for drug smuggling in China.

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.


_

44 comments:

subrosa said...

Well said Trofim.

Sam said...

I believe it quite plausible that he reached the age of 53 without being diagnosed or having critical intervention. Sometimes the illness may be inherited but not functioning until it was triggered by a certain event. This could have easily have happened.

And just because an excuse is one we've already heard, doesn't mean it can't be true.

The crime is also a needless one, drug smuggling is made a crime by the government. It is a number of them that would be eliminated if drugs were legalized and controlled by the free market.

At any rate even if you do consider it a crime then the punishment does not equal it. Execution is never necessary. Everyone has their right to life.

Fine if you believe that he didn't have a mental illness, but this was never even considered by the Chinese government, he wasn't allowed to be seen by a psychologist, he wasn't given what we would consider a fair trial.

You normally make good points but occasionally you make shit ones.

Constantly Furious said...

@sam

"the illness may be inherited but not functioning until it was triggered by a certain event. This could have easily have happened".

Well, in that case, we're all ok then, in your world.

In your world, we can commit whatever crime we want, and then claim to the judge "Sorry M'Lud, I went mad on that very day. What's that? I'm free to go? Great!"

"drug smuggling is made a crime by the government".

Yup. The Chinese can make whatever laws, and whatever penalties they damn well want, and apply them to everyone entering their country.

If they decide tomorrow to make Mars Bars illegal, you might well want to protest against that, but you'd be pretty stupid or greedy to try to smuggle a boxful in next week.

"Fine if you believe that he didn't have a mental illness, but this was never even considered by the Chinese government".

Nor, indeed by anyone else. The British government made 27 representations in 2 years, and never once provided any evidence of mental illness.

Which is my "shit" point. This was a last straw attempt, as it so often is.

Sam said...

No, I didn't say that, but if their is an obvious possibility of mental disorder then it at least needs to be investigated.

And yes they can, and you would be advised to follow them, but it doesn't make them right. It doesn't mean I should just accept that what they did was ok.

I think the UN have made the post sensible conclusion of the subject:

"We are informed that the initial conviction was based on a 30-minute hearing which would not seem to indicate due process or effective defence or presentation of evidence.

We are then told that in the appeal requests to present medical evidence, requests to the court that it should appoint an expert to assess Mr Shaikh were all rejected.

So, it's not very encouraging in fact that the Chinese courts were so dismissive of what appears to be at least a strong initial case."

So yes, whilst he was on Chinese soil, and should have respected the culture and laws, I do not believe he deserved to be killed, and we should have formed a stronger stance about this a long time ago.

Beancounter said...

The law of the land applies to people who travel through that land, in whichever part of the world that may be. That is unless you live in present-day Britain where the laws only seem to apply to the “little people” and not politicians who seem to have no concept of personal moral values. If only we could all get away with the defence of “it was in the rules”, it was a “rule” that was broken not the law etc...I must now also remember the “madness” excuse the next time I am caught for speeding, as it seems to be a good excuse for major misdemeanours.

According to the BBC (it must be right then) the Chinese apply the death penalty to crimes such as tax fraud and embezzlement. Members of the current Government in the Commons and Lords must be grateful that Moa did not achieve world domination bearing in mind the number of rules and laws that appear to be broken on a regular basis.

Perhaps the economic benefits of drug smuggling has passed the Chinese by, or perhaps they understand the disastrous personal and economic consequences of drug addiction.

Perhaps the Chinese idea of a law being enacted and implemented is a concept that we all ought to embrace, especially for drug smugglers and dealers, and maybe politicians. Or maybe I am just old-fashioned and believe that the punishment should fit the crime, and if you travel to other states then follow their laws or face the consequences.

Anonymous said...

What about the concept of Judicial Sovrenty? Their country, their laws.

And responsibilty of the family to a mentally ill relative? Who let a reportedly vunerable man wander around the world on his own, if they knew about his problems sebveral years ago?

Jill said...

My understanding also is that the Chinese judiciary refused to allow medical evidence. And that many lives are in middle-aged ruins before a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder or other mental illness is finally reached.

But whatever. Personally, I'm opposed to the death penalty in any country for any offence. It is to humanity's shame that we have not moved beyond it. It's a five-year-old's view of justice and it's never applied to the rich.

As for this guy in particular - well, I abhor the fact that he has been put to death. But I don't see the difference between a Chinese and a British citizen being executed in China. We do know that is the law of the land there. Have any mentally ill Chinese citizens been executed? And if so, why aren't we making a fuss about them? Or don't they matter?

Furor Teutonicus said...

Sam said...

No, I didn't say that, but if their is an obvious possibility of mental disorder then it at least needs to be investigated.


Why?

Why should fucking nutters be above the law?

As far as I am concerned breaking the law is a mental illness anyway, so hang/electrocute/inject the fucking LOT. We are better off without them.

JuliaM said...

"I think the UN have made the post sensible conclusion of the subject..."

They'll be sending peacekeepers to China, then..?

Oh, wait. They won't? They have just made this statement?

That's the end of that then.

JuliaM said...

"...whilst he was on Chinese soil, and should have respected the culture and laws, I do not believe he deserved to be killed, and we should have formed a stronger stance about this a long time ago."

Ah, yes, but you see, there was this big athletic shindig in Beijing last year, and yu couldn't really expect Blair to do anything to upset his hosts, could you?

Anonymous said...

The family of the deceased courier have just angrily accused the British government of being "powerless." Imagine that, eh? Brown powerless against China!

Jill said...

http://www.reprieve.org.uk/akmalshaikh

Jill said...

PS: And, also on the Reprieve site: "Reprieve first asked for an evaluation by a local expert in April 2009, which was initially granted but then refused. Reprieve paid for Dr Peter Schaapveld to fly more than 7000 miles to Urumqi to evaluate Akmal in May 2009. The Chinese had agreed to him meeting with Akmal but then, after his arrival, reneged. Repeated requests since that time went ignored. Chinese authorities refused Dr Schaapveld an entry visa on Christmas Day, when he again offered to come to conduct a full and free evaluation."

Anonymous said...

As far as I am aware, being bipolar or a manic depressive does not make you stupid. Smuggling drugs to China which has a zero tolerance death penalty policy is stupid.

John R said...

Argue about what should or should not have happened for as long as you like. But one thing trumps all else when you travel abroad, to China or anywhere else... "their game, their rules". Ignore it (and its consequences)at your peril.

For "Banana Boy" to think otherwise and call in the Chinese Ambassador just demeans our own legal system (such as it is these days).

mungle said...

No, I didn't say that, but if their is an obvious possibility of mental disorder then it at least needs to be investigated.


There seems to be a myth going about that anyone who is diagnosed with some sort of mental illness can't also be bad?? Most people who are "mad" know right from wrong and know the laws of the country in which they are living.

Sam said...

Most of you seem to think that if you have a mental disorder like Bi-polar disorder you are capable of thinking rationally. Until you understand that this is not the case then there is no point arguing with you.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Why should fucking nutters be above the law?

As far as I am concerned breaking the law is a mental illness anyway, so hang/electrocute/inject the fucking LOT. We are better off without them.


Better off without them? They are still human beings.

JuliaM said..

Ah, yes, but you see, there was this big athletic shindig in Beijing last year, and yu couldn't really expect Blair to do anything to upset his hosts, could you?


Yeah I realise that, I didn't expect the British government to actualy do something to help this guy, but I still think they should have.

g1lgam3sh said...

Come here do what you like...Go there do what they like...

g1lgam3sh said...

Come here do what you like...Go there do what they like...

Anonymous said...

The new mantra for the UK, "Bring me your criminals, your losers and wastrels, your huddled procurers wanting your daughter" Oh no..hold on. I think we may have got the sentiment wrong!

Why should the UK adopt the world's inadequates? Why can't the persons birth country take some reponsibility for that drug smuggling Bangladeshi.

And I can't resist agreeing. He broke their laws and received their punishment. Regardless if he could argue that the nasty voices made him do it or he just fancied loads of cash or was even planning it for personal use. He won't be moving drugs around the world again and that has to be a good thing.

Clive said...

Speaking personally, I'd need to get that bag of drugs inside my bloodstream before it caused me any schizophrenic symptoms. Wrapped in cling film in my luggage, it wouldn't have the same effect.

Sam:
"They are still human beings."

Apparently not. You yourself said they lack the quality of sapience, which is etymologically innate in the concept of humanity.

Sam said...

Clive, so you suggest that those who suffer from Bi-polar disorder aren't human beings? I know you're utilising Reductio ad absurdum (or at least you must be, because otherwise what you are saying is just plain stupid), but come on, if he wasn't thinking rationally then should he be punished (in the same way) for a crime that maybe he didn't intend to do? In the same way that someone might commit a crime without knowing, say in their sleep? You might (I suspect will) say yes. Even so, I do not think Execution is an appropriate punishment for any crime.

Yes, as I may reiterate, it may be China's rules, but it doesn't mean we have to agree with them.

Joe Public said...

To plagiarise Voltaire:

'..it is a good thing to kill a drug smuggler from time to time to discourage the others.'

Anonymous said...

Sam said
"Yes, as I may reiterate, it may be China's rules, but it doesn't mean we have to agree with them."

No it doesnt but many in the UK do.

Clive said...

"I do not think Execution is an appropriate punishment for any crime."

I do. I execute wasps for stinging me, and moths for chomping through my clothes, without so much as a second thought.

Let me spell out my argument more explicitly for you.

Sapience (in case you didn't follow the Wikipedia hot-link) is the ability to act with appropriate judgment, or to put it another way, to tell right from wrong.

Etymology is the study of the development of words.

An innate property is one that's essential and inextricable to a type of something. If, for example,

[1] Tumescence is innate to quirkafleegs.
[2] You say Imhotep is not tumescent.
[3] You say Imhotep is a quirkafleeg.

then you contradict yourself. Either Imhotep is tumescent, or Imhotep is not a quirkafleeg.

Now, the biological classification of human beings is Homo sapiens:

[1] Human beings are sapient.

However, you have asserted that:

[2] Akmal Shaikh is not sapient.
[3] Akmal Shaikh is a human being.

And we're back to the exact same contradiction.

Now I suggest you make up your mind:

Either Akmal Shaikh is perfectly capable of telling right from wrong, in which case he is just as able to face his punishment (plus an additional six months for perjury).

Or Akmal Shaikh is something other than human; a cacodemon from the Biblical story of Lucifer, no more relevant to human affairs than a nest of wasps.

Oh FFS !!!! said...

Did I hear The Gorgon Right today, asking the voters not to wreck the economy ! The fucking Voters For Fucks sake you could not make this madness up !!

In case no one noticed the economy is as fucked up as a fucked up thing can be, totally wrecked to buggery and back again and he is blaming the fucking Voters !!!!!!!

FFS!!!

What a mad bad deluded evil fucker we have running the country !

Furor Teutonicus said...

Sam said...
Better off without them? They are still human beings.
30 December 2009 18:10


Hitler, Mao Tse Tsung and fucking Stalin were "human biengs", would we be "better off WITH them"?

Grow up.

Sometimes the shit HAS to be cleared out of the gene pool.

JuliaM said...

"Why can't the persons birth country take some reponsibility for that drug smuggling Bangladeshi."

Interestingly enough, no less a loony left-wing nutjob than Robert Fisk himself was arguing in the 'Indy' the other day that the Islamic authorities should have spoken out against the execution...

He must have been at the Chritmas sherry!

Jill said...

This post is interesting me if only for the general lack of focus in the comments.

CF: my understanding of your original post is that you were talking around two main points(ish): probable bogus nature of mental illness defence for this man; incompetence of British diplomatic representations. Then you added a third in the comments here - something along the lines of last-chance-saloon-let's-try-the-old-crazy-as-a-coconut-excuse.

Well, as you can see, we know at least from Reprieve that they took on the case in early 2008 (and one assumes were working on preparing mental health issues for subsequent appeals from then) and first presented them at an appeal in early 2009, when they were denied. So there was no 'last straw' (sic) chucking in of this defence.

In one way, it seems British diplomatic efforts were incompetent; trading on a hoped-for goodwill that didn't materialise in the face of strong Chinese public opinion about drugs control and foreigners receiving equal treatment in the courts. The 27 diplomatic representations do not seem to have been about due process or other legal issues, but about favours between nations.

However, I'm not sure how much legal arguing diplomats ever actually do - I think it's more about facilitation anyway, on all these occasions, and Reprieve, never backward in criticising the government, have nothing but praise for the UK's diplomatic efforts.

I think it's clear that this man did have an appeal argument on the grounds of mental health and I think it's also clear that a just due process was not served by the Chinese authorities refusing to allow it - not that they did not ACCEPT it, that they did not HEAR it.

So I think your post is ill-informed and wrong, sorry.

The underlying argument, about the death penalty both generally and in the case of potential mental health issues, is another matter altogether. I'm opposed to it in every instance, personally. But I don't think a British citizen should get special treatment in a Chinese court, simply by dint of being British. I just don't think the Chinese should execute anyone.

banned said...

Chinas country, Chinas Law, Chinese justice, if you don't like it don't go there.
And Chinas poke in the face to The West for getting vilified at CO2penhagen.

Matthew hopkins said...

Quite frankly, who gives a shit?
I'm willing to bet most of those frothing at the mouth couldn't tell you his full name without looking it up.

If China got on TV and condemned UK plc (a division of the US globocorp) for going down faster than a $5 hooker every time the US wanted a Brit extradited for some nonsensical crime how would BananaBoy react then I wonder?

JuliaM said...

"If China got on TV and condemned UK plc (a division of the US globocorp) for going down faster than a $5 hooker every time the US wanted a Brit extradited for some nonsensical crime how would BananaBoy react then I wonder?"

Oh, I'd love to see that! :)

English Pensioner said...

I have never ever been through any major airport without out being asked whether I packed my own luggage or am carrying something for anyone else. I even had to unwrap, at Sydney, a present that we had carefully wrapped for our host.
So one might ask how someone, who has a mental problem and was broke
a. Managed to travel to China (travel isn't that easy even if you have your wits about you),
b. Managed to get the drugs into China through the customs.

China has the right to make its own laws, and in fact the death penalty exists for drug smuggling throughout the region, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam to my knowledge. They seem far more aware of the dangers of drugs unlike the liberals in this country. In my view, the death penalty is appropriate (he didn't just have a bit for personal use), as I feel the crime is equivalent to genocide.

killemallletgodsortemout said...

Brown's intervention shows just what a major player he is on the world stage. Tosser.

I bet the Chinese are quaking in their boots.

Furor Teutonicus said...

English Pensioner said...

the death penalty exists for drug smuggling throughout the region, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam to my knowledge. They seem far more aware of the dangers of drugs


Damn RIGHT they are. But I ask if there, they are not just protecting their home industrys. (you HAVE heard of "the golden triangle"?)

caesars wife said...

Happy new year CF all the best for 2010 CW

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