Dr Abbas Khan funeral: Brother in moving tribute to British doctor found dead in Syrian jail

32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon from London was captured in November last year in the ancient city of Aleppo

The brother of a British doctor who died while being held in custody in Syria has paid a moving tribute to him, describing him as “our star”.

Dr Abbas Khan was on the verge of being released when his family were told of his death. The Syrian regime claimed he took his own life but his family claim he was murdered.

The 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon from London was captured in November last year in the ancient city of Aleppo after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings. His death was announced on December 17.

At a packed funeral prayer service at Regent's Park mosque in London, his brother Shahnawaz Khan said: "Last night I sat down to undertake the morbid task of writing a eulogy for my brother."

He added: "My brother, to us, was our star. His star shone on our family."

Dr Khan was described by his brother as the "kindest and simplest man I've ever met".

Mr Khan spoke of "the evil that has taken him from us so cruelly" and said the family had been through "one of the most difficult times we have ever seen".

The doctor's mother Fatima has dismissed a claim by Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad that her son killed himself.

Earlier this month, the family revealed a letter in which the doctor expressed his optimism at being released and his hopes of being home in time for Christmas.

Dr Abbas Khan who died while being held in custody in Syria. Dr Abbas Khan who died while being held in custody in Syria.

Dr Abbas leaves behind wife Hanna, 30, son Abdullah, six, and daughter, Rurayya, seven.

In a very distressed state outside the mosque, Dr Khan's mother wailed and as people tried to comfort her, she said: "Nobody help me, I love my son. I am the loser. I'm the failure."

She added: "I beg everybody. I touch everyone's feet. Please give me my son."

A man then wrapped his arm around her and brought her to a car and she was driven away.

Speaking outside the mosque before the prayers, family solicitor Nabeel Sheikh said: "The family would like to express their sincere gratitude at the level of support they've received this morning.

"There is a very, very large turnout and I think that is testament to the significance of this case and the emotions that are running high at the moment.

"It is a very tragic set of circumstances under which Dr Abbas Khan passed away. Obviously we know tomorrow the inquest will be formally opened and then the process will start of collating evidence for the coroner to finally reach a judgment when the inquest concludes.

"For today's purposes the family is very, very grateful for the level of support they've received from the British public so far and the priority for them is obviously to lay the body to rest so they can have some form of closure, albeit the process of the inquest will start tomorrow and will conclude in due course after which we will consider what legal avenues are open to us to conclude this matter, and hopefully find some form of justice if that exists in this case."

He said the idea of suicide was "inconceivable".

When Mr Sheikh was asked if he thought the British government had done enough to help, he said: "I think the family would think they haven't done enough, there has been no real contact with them whatsoever.

"On numerous occasions they have tried to seek a meeting with (Foreign Secretary) William Hague but to no avail.

"The only thing they have really received is a letter from the Prime Minister post the tragic event occurring."

Dr Khan's brother recalled his childhood play fighting and sleeping beside him.

"Now seeing all of you, and remembering those days, I feel I was truly blessed," he said.

Before Mr Khan spoke about his brother, an imam said the doctor "gave his life as a sacrifice".

He said Dr Khan went to Syria "with the pure intention to save lives".

Karimah Bint Daoud, a female chaplain at the Muslim College in Ealing, west London, attended the service and explained why there was such a big crowd.

"For us, it's like if one is killed, it affects all of us, and that's what we believe.

"So people will come out and show support for the family," she said.

Dr Khan is to be taken to Ilford, East London, to be laid to rest.

The inquest will open at 11am tomorrow at Walthamstow Coroner's Court.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness