A British man due to be executed within hours in China has been visited by members of his family.
Akmal Shaikh’s relatives have made an 11th-hour plea for mercy as the 53-year-old faces death in the north-western city of Urumqi.
Convicted of drug smuggling, they say he is mentally ill.
“We would like to stress that Akmal has no previous criminal record,” said Soohail Shaikh, who met his condemned cousin at the secure hospital in Urumqi where he is being held. “We beg Chinese authorities to show mercy and clemency to help reunite this heartbroken family.”
The Chinese Embassy in London has also been the focus of last-ditch appeals. The UK is urging clemency and says it is intensifying its efforts as time runs out.
Britain’s Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the message to China’s government was: “Please, exercise clemency in accordance with the Chinese law, allow this person to live.”
Akmal Shaikh’s family insist he was duped into carrying 4kg of heroin into China, with the promise he would be made a pop star. If the death penalty is carried out, he will become the first EU national to be executed in the country in 50 years.