Martin seeks answers after Hassan killer goes missing

MINISTER for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has demanded the Iraqi government explain the disappearance from prison of the man who kidnapped and killed Irish aid worker Margaret Hassan.

In a letter to be delivered this morning, Mr Martin is expected to tell his Iraqi counterpart he is concerned about reports that Ali Lufti Jassar al-Rawi, serving a life sentence for murdering the Dublin-born aid worker in 2004, has escaped custody.

The body of 59-year-old Ms Hassan has never been found and the minister believes the Iraqi government must provide assistance in locating it because her family want to give her a christian burial.

Al-Rawi claimed to be in a position to identify Ms Hassan’s precise burial place and the family hoped he would eventually pass this information onto the Iraqi authorities. But it came as a major shock to the family when they learned, last week, their sister’s killer had failed to turn up for a court hearing relating to an appeal of his conviction.

Mr Martin has demanded clarification on whether or not Al-Rawi escaped from custody after the Hassan family’s lawyer said the director of Iraq’s prisoner transfer system told a judge the killer’s whereabouts were unknown.

He was sentenced to life in prison on June 2 last year for his role in one of the most high-profile murders to follow the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. It’s believed he may have been missing for months.

Ms Hassan, who also held Iraqi and British citizenship, had lived in Iraq for 30 years where she worked as head of operations for the humanitarian group, Care International. She was kidnapped in October 2004 and shot a month later. Lawyers for al-Rawi have claimed that an alleged confession of her killing was extracted under torture.

On Friday, British foreign secretary, William Hague had a telephone conversation with Mr Zebri during which he expressed his concerns over the recent developments.


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