According to the Associated Press, China brushed aside international appeals and executed by lethal injection a British drug smuggler who relatives say was mentally unstable and unwittingly lured into crime. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was “appalled” at the execution of 53-year old Akmal Shaikh – China’s first of a European citizen in nearly 60 years. His government summoned the Chinese ambassador in London to express its anger. China defended its handling of the case, saying there had not been documentary proof Shaikh was mentally ill. The execution is the latest sign of how China’s communist government, with its rising global economic and political clout, is increasingly willing to defy Western complaints over its justice system and human rights record. Shaikh, a Briton of Pakistani descent, was arrested in 2007 for carrying a suitcase with almost 9 pounds (4 kilograms) of heroin into China on a flight from Tajikistan. He told Chinese officials he didn’t know about the drugs and that the suitcase wasn’t his, according to Reprieve, a London-based prisoner advocacy group that is helping with his case. He was convicted in 2008 after a half-hour trial. According to Reprieve, the last European executed in China was Antonio Riva, an Italian pilot who was shot by a firing squad in 1951 after being convicted of involvement in what China said was a plot to assassinate Mao Zedong and other high-ranking communist officials.

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