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

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam