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Post-mortem due for UK doctor who died in Syria

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December 22, 2013 03:28 PM EST | AP

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LONDON (AP) — The body of a British doctor who died while in government custody in Syria was returned to the U.K. on Sunday for a post-mortem examination.

Abbas Khan, a surgeon from London, died just days before he was apparently due to be released from Syrian government detention. His family blames the Syrian government for his death, and a senior British official has also said Khan was "in effect, murdered."

Syrian authorities say the doctor committed suicide — a notion the family rejects.

In a letter to the family, Prime Minister David Cameron criticized the Syrian regime for its "despicable" treatment of the doctor and refusal to work with the British government to release him.

"Abbas' death is a sickening and appalling tragedy and it is right that the Syrian regime should answer for it," he wrote in the letter, which was released Sunday.

The 32-year-old Khan was captured in November last year after he entered Syria to work in a hospital.

A lawyer for Khan's family said the doctor's body was to be transported to a coroner's court in London for a post-mortem.