Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 17:28 UK

Man jailed for killing aid worker

Margaret Hassan
Margaret Hassan's body has never been found

A member of the gang that kidnapped and murdered UK aid worker Margaret Hassan has been jailed for life in Baghdad.

Mrs Hassan, 59, director of Care International in Iraq, was kidnapped as she made her way to work in the city in October 2004.

Dublin-born Mrs Hassan - an Irish, UK and Iraqi citizen - was shot dead weeks later. Her body has never been found.

Mrs Hassan's sister told the BBC her family was content that Ali Lutfi Jassar had been found guilty.

Deirdre Manchanda, nee Fitzsimmons, said before his trial that she hoped he would reveal the location of Mrs Hassan's body to enable her burial in the UK.

After hearing the verdict, she told the BBC in a statement: "We are content that this man has been found guilty.

We hope that this may be a step further to finding the other people responsible for this dreadful crime, and to finding Margaret's body
John Tucknott
UK Charge d'Affaires in Baghdad

"However, he has still not revealed the whereabouts of Margaret's remains which enable us to bury with the respect that she deserves."

Jassar was convicted of her murder and abduction at the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad.

He was arrested by Iraqi and US forces in August last year after contacting the British embassy in Baghdad and attempting to extort money in return for leading them to Mrs Hassan's body.

In his communications with embassy officials, he mentioned an intimate detail about the aid worker that only her closest relatives and friends knew.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell, reporting from outside court in Baghdad, said Jassar was "probably on the fringes" of the kidnapping gang.

"The leaders of this plot have never been found. Some of their names are known but they have never been traced," he said.

"[Jassar] told the judges he had nothing at all to do with the murder. He said confessions had been wrought from him through torture."

But the judges found him guilty and sentenced him to life in jail, which will mean 20 years, our correspondent added.

'Minimise' UK links

Mrs Hassan was married to an Iraqi and had lived there for 30 years.

After her kidnap, she was shown on a video pleading for her life and calling on then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw troops from Iraq.

Mrs Hassan's family have previously criticised the UK government for failing to talk to the kidnappers.

The Foreign Office confirmed at the time that the kidnappers called her husband Tahseen but said its strategy had been to "minimise" Mrs Hassan's UK links.

The British Charge d'Affaires John Tucknott, in Baghdad welcomed the conviction in a statement.

He said: "We hope that this may be a step further to finding the other people responsible for this dreadful crime, and to finding Margaret's body.

"We will continue to work with the Iraqi authorities as they continue their investigation, and press them to follow up all possible aspects."

Mustafa Mohammed Salman al-Jabouri was given a life sentence by a Baghdad court in June 2006 after being convicted of aiding and abetting the kidnappers.

His sentence was later reduced on appeal.

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