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Syria defends jailing of British doctor who died in prison

Published on Dec 19, 2013 5:47 AM

DAMASCUS (AFP) - Syria said on Wednesday that a British doctor alleged to have been effectively murdered in custody had hanged himself after being arrested for "unauthorised activities."

Meanwhile, regime warplanes pounded Aleppo for a fourth straight day in raids that have killed at least 189 people and overwhelmed the northern city's hospitals, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said, citing local medics.

The death of Dr Abbas Khan just days before he was to be handed over to a British lawmaker sparked a diplomatic row with London, which accused President Bashar al-Assad's regime of effectively murdering the 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon.

But state news agency Sana said Dr Khan had entered Syria illegally and undertaken "unauthorised activities." It also cited a medical report as saying his death by hanging was "committed by the person himself with the aim of taking his own life" and that tests had shown "no trace of violence or resistance." Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Meqdad had said on Tuesday that Dr Khan hanged himself with his pyjamas.

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