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Family of British surgeon found hanged in Syrian jail believes he was murdered

  • Fatima Khan, mother of Dr Abbas Khan 32, who died while being held in custody in Syria, is comforted by her son at a service for the British doctor at Regent's Park mosque in central London, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013. Dr Abbas Khan was on the verge of being released when his family were told of his death. The Syrian regime claimed he took his own life but his family claim he was murdered. (AP Photo/Stefan Rousseau, PA Wire) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES

  • Lebanese Red Cross workers carry the coffin of British doctor Abbas Khan, 32, who was seized by Syrian government troops in November 2012, into the Hotel-Dieu de France hospital in Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. The circumstances in which Khan, died while in detention in Syria remain in dispute. A senior British official has accused Syrian President Bashar Assad's government of effectively murdering Khan, while the Syrian authorities say the doctor committed suicide and there was no sign of violence or abuse. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

As a British surgeon who died in a Syrian jail was eulogized at a London funeral by his brokenhearted brother as the “kindest and simplest man I’ve ever met,” English officials convened an inquest into the strange circumstances of the doctor's death.

Outside a service last week at London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, Fatima Khan – Dr. Abbas Khan's mother  – reportedly cried out in anguish and rebuffed supporters’ repeated attempts to assuage her heartrending grief, saying, “Nobody help me. I love my son. I am the loser. I’m the failure…I beg everybody. I touch everyone’s feet. Please give me my son.”

The Guardian of England reports that during the ceremony, Shahnawaz Khan – Khan’s brother – told mourners, “Last night, I sat down to undertake the morbid task of writing a eulogy for my brother. My brother, to us, was our star. His star shone on our family.”

The “kindest and simplest man I’ve ever met.”

- Shahnawaz Kha

Dr. Abbas Khan, a 32-year-old father of two young children, was captured in the Syrian city of Aleppo in November 2012 after he entered the war-torn nation from Turkey -- allegedly without a visa -- in order to work in a field hospital.

Syrian authorities reportedly informed the British government through a Czech official he died on December 16 while in government custody.  They insist Khan committed suicide, while his family and the British government  contend he was, “in effect, murdered.”

Meanwhile, a London coroner reportedly listened as officials said during an official inquest into Khan’s death on Friday that Syrian authorities claim Khan hanged himself before he was due in a Damascus terrorism court.  

The Guardian reports Syrian officials claim Khan was served breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on December 16, and that his death was recorded upon their return to his cell around 9 a.m., or shortly before he was to be produced in court.

“It was their opinion he had committed suicide, although the motivation for this was not apparent to them,” Detective Chief Inspector Grant Mallon reportedly said during the inquest, adding Syrian authorities say they thereafter determined the cause of Khan's death to be asphyxiation by hanging, and that they found, “no traces of violence, forced resistance or torture on the body.”

The Guardian reports the inquest was adjourned after a single day without an official cause of death logged by British authorities.

Officials there are now reportedly awaiting the results of a toxicology test on Khan.

Also, Khan’s family has reportedly revealed that shortly before his death, the doctor had penned a letter to them in which he expressed optimism concerning what he believed would be his impending release, just in time for Christmas with his wife and children, ages 6 and 7.

During Shanawaz Khan’s eulogy of his brother, he called him, “the kindest and simplest man I’ve ever met,” and referred to not only, “the evil that has taken him from us so cruelly,” but also resulted in, “one of the most difficult times we have ever seen.”