UK test results still awaited over doctor who died in Syria

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The UK authorities are still awaiting post-mortem results for a British doctor who died while in custody in Syria.

The Syrian regime has said Dr Abbas Khan took his own life, although his family are adamant he was murdered.

During the opening of an inquest yesterday into the 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon’s death, Chief Inspector Grant Mallon told Walthamstow Coroner’s Court that the Syrian authorities had stated that Dr Khan’s body had been found hanging in a jail cell.

Mr Mallon said the Syrians had stated that Dr Khan was to go before a terrorism court on December 16.

He said the authorities in Damascus had reported that he was found hanging when officers went to his cell at 9am.

He told the hearing Syrian doctors had performed a non-invasive post-mortem and determined the cause of death was “asphyxiation by hanging”.

The officer said Syrian authorities had determined the death was self-inflicted and said Syrian doctors had found “no traces of violence or torture”.

Dr Khan’s body arrived at Heathrow airport on December 22 and underwent a CT scan and post-mortem by British doctors at Romford mortuary the next day.

The UK experts had yet to determine a cause of death as results from toxicology tests were still not available, Mr Mallon said.

Coroner Nadia Persaud adjourned the inquest for a review on February 27 next year.

Dr Khan, who was from London, was captured in November last year in the city of Aleppo after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings.

His death was announced on December 17.

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

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

The inquest opening came a day after a funeral prayer service was held for Dr Khan at a packed Regent’s Park mosque in London on Thursday.

His brother Shahnawaz Khan described him as the “kindest and simplest man I’ve ever met” and their childhood play fighting.

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