The body of a British doctor who died in a Syrian jail is to be transferred to Britain’s embassy in Beirut on Friday “at the latest”, a senior Syrian official told AFP.
“At the family’s request, the Syrian authorities and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are carrying out a final autopsy to find out the causes of Abbas Khan’s death,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Muqdad said Thursday.
“Then his body will be transferred to Lebanon, by tomorrow (Friday) at the latest,” he said, adding that it will be “handed over to the British embassy in Beirut”.
Muqdad later said the autopsy had been completed and that it was now up to the ICRC to decide on the timing of the transfer to the Lebanese capital.
Syria’s regime was accused by London of murdering the doctor in prison.
But the authorities on Wednesday said Khan was found “hanging” in his cell, where he was being held for “unauthorised activities”, and that he had committed suicide.
Muqdad said that President Bashar al-Assad had decided to grant Khan an amnesty and hand him over to his mother and British MP George Galloway at a press conference in Damascus.
“We are very sad … I was arranging for the release of Doctor Khan on the 20th or the 21st. Suddenly I receive a telephone call that the man is dead,” he said.
“Many questions come: How come he killed himself when he was about to be released. He knew that he was about to be released,” said Muqdad.
The official dismissed charges of torture.
“If we wanted to do any harm to him, we could have done it before … after one mouth, two months … We did our best to preserve him and he was treated very well in his prison.”
Khan, a volunteer with London-based charity Human Aid UK, had travelled to Aleppo in northern Syria last year to help civilians but was captured by the regime.
His family on Tuesday said they were “shocked and devastated” by the news of his death.
The British government has held Damascus responsible for the death of the 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon.