Inquest into death of Dr Abbas Khan - British prisoner killed in Syria - opens

Doctor was on the verge of being released when his family were told of his death by what the Syrian government calls suicide and they say was murder

An inquest opened on Friday into the death of Abbas Khan, the British doctor "murdered" in a Syrian prison.

The hearing at Walthamstow Coroners Court, north-east London, was adjourned on the same day.

Dr Khan, 32, from Streatham, south London, died days before he was due for release.

The orthopaedic surgeon had been arrested in Aleppo 48 hours after arriving in the country to work in a field hospital in November last year.

He had entered without a visa and later told his family the regime of Bashar al-Assad had classed his work as "an act of terrorism."

His death was announced on 17 December. The Syrian government said he hanged himself, but the Foreign Office countered that he was "in effect murdered." His family agrees with the UK Government, saying the regime killed him.

A funeral service was held for Dr Khan at Regent's Park Mosque in London on Boxing Day, where his brother Shahnawaz described him as the "kindest and simplest man I've ever met".

A British police Detective Chief Inspector, who is acting as a liaison between the court and the British and Syrian governments, spoke at the hearing.

He relaid the Syrian authorities' claims that prison guards found Mr Khan dead in his cell on 16 December.

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 left behind his wife Hanna, 30, son Abdullah, six, and daughter, Rurayya, seven.

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