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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Ashdown Group: Linux Administrator - London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors

£13000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Please read this fully before a...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executives - Home Based - £150,000 OTE

£100000 - £150000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity t...

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower