Answers hope over Syria death medic

Mid Devon Star: Dr Abbas Khan died while being held in custody in Syria Dr Abbas Khan died while being held in custody in Syria

The grief-stricken family of a British doctor who died while in custody in Syria said they hoped to find answers about his death as final preparations are made in court for his full inquest.

The Syrian regime has said Dr Abbas Khan, a 32-year-old orthopaedic surgeon who was pronounced dead on December 17, took his own life. His family is adamant he was murdered.

A pre-inquest review is due to take place at the High Court after being transferred there from Walthamstow Coroner's Court in east London.

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

Chief Inspector Grant Mallon told an inquest hearing at Walthamstow Coroner's Court in December 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 examination 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 examination 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.

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

Nabeel Sheikh, the Khan family solicitor, said: "The family of Dr Abbas Khan are grateful to the East London Coroner for transferring this important matter from the Walthamstow Coroner's Court to the High Court in London. This inquest has a wider public importance and the family hope that the inquest will give them answers to the death of Dr Abbas Khan and achieve justice for him."

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