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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 17:28 GMT 18:28 UK
Iraqi jailed over Hassan killing
Margaret Hassan
Margaret Hassan was killed in 2004
An Iraqi man has been jailed for life for his role in the abduction and murder of aid worker Margaret Hassan.

Mustafa Salman al-Jubouri was found guilty by a Baghdad court of aiding and abetting the kidnappers but two other men were acquitted.

Mrs Hassan, 59, who had British, Iraqi and Irish nationality, was kidnapped in October 2004 and shot a month later, but her body has never been found.

Her family said the verdict left them "devastated and appalled".

They said those responsible for Mrs Hassan's death "did not have the decency to return her body to her family to allow us to bury her with the dignity she deserves".

One of her sisters has urged the UK government to help find the body.

But her pleas for British officials to conduct interviews before the trial - the arrests were by the US military - had been refused, Deidre Fitzsimons said.

The Foreign Office has said the case was an Iraqi police matter.

Possessions found

The hearing at the Iraqi Central Criminal Court was believed to have been the first trial connected to the abduction of a foreign-born citizen since the 2003 conflict.

Margaret's loss is not only to her family but also to the Iraqi people for whom she worked tirelessly and for whom she gave her life
Margaret Hassan's family

The BBC's Ian Pannell in Baghdad said the verdict was given at the end of a two-hour hearing by three judges who had reviewed the evidence beforehand.

A bag containing some of Mrs Hassan's possessions was found at the house of Mr al-Jubouri, he added.

Mrs Hassan had lived in Iraq for 30 years and worked for the global humanitarian group Care International.

She was seized while on her way to work in Baghdad on 19 October 2004.

In their statement after the court verdict, Mrs Hassan's family called for "all men and women of honour and compassion to plead with the British and Iraqi governments" to recover Mrs Hassan's body.

"Margaret's loss is not only to her family but also to the Iraqi people for whom she worked tirelessly and for whom she gave her life," they added.

'Minimise links'

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme before Monday's verdict, Mrs Hassan's sister repeated the family's claims that Mrs Hassan had been killed because the British government refused to speak to the kidnappers.

She said kidnappers had made four calls to Mrs Hassan's Iraqi husband, asking to speak to the British Embassy, but that the British had refused to speak to them.

The Foreign Office confirmed Mrs Hassan's husband was called from her phone, but could not verify the caller's kidnapping claims.

A spokesman said: "Our strategy was one of personalisation and localisation - to minimise the links between Margaret Hassan and the UK." He understood her family had criticisms of the government's approach, but they remained in constant contact with them, he added.

While more than 280 foreign nationals are thought to have been kidnapped since 2003, abductions of Iraqis take place on an almost daily basis, usually for ransoms.




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