Page last updated at 11:27 GMT, Monday, 28 September 2009 12:27 UK

UK hostage died from bullet wound

Alec MacLachlan
Alec MacLachlan was seized at Baghdad's Ministry of Finance

A British security guard, who was killed after being taken hostage in Iraq, died from a bullet wound to the head, an inquest has heard.

Alec MacLachlan, 30, of Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, was one of five men kidnapped in 2007. His body was flown home from Baghdad earlier this month.

The bodies of two other security guards were returned to the UK in June. It is feared a fourth may also be dead.

But the Foreign Office believes the man they were protecting is still alive.

The inquest into Mr MacLachlan's death was opened at Salisbury Coroners Court and then adjourned while investigations are carried out.

Coroner David Ridley heard evidence from Det Ch Insp Mark Moles, a senior investigating officer from the Metropolitan Police's counter terrorism command.

He told the court Mr MacLachlan was identified by dental records, DNA samples and tattoos including one inscribed "blood and honour".

Following repatriation, his body was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where a post-mortem examination was carried out.

The cause of death was recorded as a gunshot wound to the head.

Link inquests

The five men - four security guards and the man were they were protecting, IT consultant Peter Moore - were captured at Baghdad's Ministry of Finance in May 2007.

They were seized by about 40 men disguised as Iraqi policemen.

The captors are understood to belong to an obscure militia known as Islamic Shia Resistance in Iraq.

Clockwise from top left: Alan McMenemy, Peter Moore,  Alec Maclachlan, Jason Swindlehurst, Jason Creswell
The five hostages were taken in May 2007

The bodies of security guards Jason Swindlehurst, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, from Glasgow, were handed over to the Iraqi authorities in June. Tests later showed they died from gunshot wounds.

Then in July, the BBC learned that two more of the men - Mr MacLachlan and Alan McMenemy, from Glasgow, were also believed to be dead.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has said he believes Mr Moore, from Lincoln, is still alive, although his condition is not known.

Det Ch Insp Moles asked the coroner to link Mr MacLachlan's inquest with those of Mr Creswell and Mr Swindlehurst because of "the circumstances of the kidnap and apparent similarities surrounding the cause of death".

He said the objective of his investigation was to have "a resolution to report on the outstanding two hostages".

The inquest was adjourned to a provisional date of 8 January 2010 with the hearing scheduled to take place over nine weeks in April 2010.

Mr MacLachlan's body was released to his family for burial.

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