Family seeks justice as man jailed over Hassan murder

THE family of murdered Dublin-born aid worker Margaret Hassan last night underlined their determination to give her the honour of a dignified burial.

“Until we know who was responsible for her death, and until her remains are returned to us, justice is not served,” the family said.

The statement came as an Iraqi man was yesterday jailed for life for aiding the abduction and murder of Ms Hassan in November 2004.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern yesterday called on the British Government to make a public statement on the circumstances surrounding her kidnap and murder.

His call came after a family member criticised the British Government for refusing to speak to her Iraqi kidnappers, which had resulted in Ms Hassan’s death.

Ms Hassan, who held British, Irish and Iraqi citizenship, was kidnapped in October 2004.

The 59-year-old had lived in Iraq for 30 years, had married an Iraqi citizen and had worked for the international humanitarian group CARE International.

She grew up in Dalkey, south Dublin, before her parents moved to London.

Mr Ahern said clarification from the British Foreign Office on the kidnapping would be of help.

“My understanding was that people had been in contact with (Ms Hassan’s husband) but that, at the time, it was important to a large extent to keep as silent as possible her British

involvement, to emphasise that she worked with CARE International, to emphasise that she was an Iraqi citizen and worked for the betterment of Iraqi people and also that she was an Irish citizen and born in Ireland.”

Ms Hassan’s sister, Deirdre Fitzsimons, had earlier told BBC radio her sister was killed because the British Government refused to speak to the kidnappers.

She said the abductors had made four calls to her sister’s husband, Tahseen Hassan, asking to speak to the British Embassy, but that the British had refused to speak to them.

A Baghdad court yesterday handed down a life sentence to Mustafa al-Jubouri, who was found guilty of aiding and abetting the kidnap. Another man was cleared and a third freed due to lack of evidence.

Hassan family’s statement following the Baghdad hearing

THE family of Margaret Hassan is devastated and appalled by the short two-hour court hearing today in Baghdad.

There was a successful prosecution of Mustafa

Mohammed Salman Saleh Al-Jabouri for “joining the group who kidnapped Margaret”, but we hoped to find out who killed Margaret and why she was killed.

At today’s trial, we hoped to discover the whereabouts of her body. Until we know who was responsible for her death and until her remains are returned to us, justice is not served and we continue to grieve.

One of the men in court today used Margaret’s mobile phone to call her husband and make demands. He was found in possession of her personal belongings. He admitted to interrogating her. During her captivity, she was shown neither pity nor humanity and today’s events continue to deny our sister respect.

The British Government’s handling of Margaret’s kidnapping was inept. Their refusal to interview the kidnappers who were arrested by US forces on May 1, 2005, leaves our family to draw one conclusion: they would have to admit to incompetence in this investigation. We feel that Margaret has been betrayed and that truth and justice have been denied.

Margaret’s loss is not only to her family but also to the Iraqi people for whom she worked tirelessly. The world, and especially Iraq, is a much poorer place without her.

These men know that one day they will have to answer to God. One day the truth will be told about what happened to Margaret and why it happened; until that day we ask you to keep her in your prayers and in your hearts.

We thank the Irish Government and Michael D Higgins who have tried to help us in our search for truth and justice.

We ask men and women of compassion to plead with the authorities to make an honest attempt to recover Margaret’s body that we may give her the honour of a dignified burial.

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