Abbas Khan death: Torture experts inspect body of British doctor killed in Syria

Family claims British doctor was murdered by Syrian regime, which maintains he killed himself

Experts on the use of chemicals for torture are to conduct tests on the body of a British doctor who died in custody in Syria, a pre-inquest hearing has been told.

The Syrian regime claims Abbas Khan, a 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon, killed himself but his family is adamant he was murdered.

They attended a hearing today where details of the British authorities' investigation into his death were given, and it was heard that further examination of a sample of Dr Khan's hair is to be carried out.

The family's counsel, Michael Mansfield QC , said this would include tests for “chemical agents”.

He told the hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London: “In a scientific context there is a desire by the family to ensure that if this kind of investigation is going to be taken further they would like to seek the further assistance of those experts who might be familiar with the kind of chemicals that are used by states who indulge in torture.

“The request is obviously a desire to find another expert who has experience on the range of substances that might be used, and also to examine other aspects of this beyond the hair, for example the clothing, and whether the clothing is stained in any way by any chemicals that might have been used.”

Counsel for the inquest, Samantha Leek QC, gave an update on the Metropolitan Police's investigation, and said officers had taken a number of witness statements including from members of the Syrian British Medical Society and from a medical colleague of Dr Khan's from the Syrian National Co-ordination Body.

She said statements had also been taken from politicians including Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who was accused by Dr Khan's family of thwarting a mission to save the British doctor while he was being held in Syria.

Judge Peter Thornton, the Chief Coroner for England and Wales, said a full jury inquest into Dr Khan's death will take place later this year with a provisional start date of October 13.

It will be held at the Royal Courts of Justice and is expected to last two to three weeks. A previous hearing in February heard that the doctor's family had been told by sources in Syria that he did not kill himself and was murdered.

Dr Khan, a father-of-two from London, was captured in November 2012 in the city of Aleppo after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings. The Syrian authorities say his body was found hanging in a jail cell.

Mr Mansfield previously said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) should “answer some questions”.

He said while the FCO was notified of Dr Khan's detention in November 2012, there might be a case for suggesting that while they advised people from going to Syria, that “doesn't absolve” them altogether of responsibility.

That hearing was also told the Syrian authorities had not responded to requests for photographs of the scene where they say Dr Khan killed himself.

He was due to go before a terrorism court on December 16 but it is claimed he was found hanging when officers went to his cell at 9am.

Dr Khan's mother Fatima had been told by Syrian president Bashar Assad's adviser that her son would be released, Mr Mansfield said, and questioned why a man who believed he was going to be set free would take his own life.

Dr Khan left behind wife Hanna and two young children, son Abdullah and daughter Rurayya.

PA

News
people
Life and Style
healthMovember isn't about a moustache trend, it saves lives
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkFrom Mediterranean Tomato Tart to Raw Caramel Peanut Pie
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Extras
Boys to men: there’s nothing wrong with traditional ‘manly’ things, until masculinity is used to exclude people
indybest13 best grooming essentials
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities