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Last Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005, 12:23 GMT
Questions over UN worker's death
by Nic Rigby
BBC News, Ipswich

Iain Hook's UN identity card
Iain Hook was working for the UN when he was killed
A British UN project manager, shot by an Israeli sniper, was unlawfully killed a UK inquest has concluded.

At 6ft 1in, ex-soldier Iain Hook was an imposing figure and very much respected by his UN colleagues as someone who could get things done.

Mr Hook, 54, from Felixstowe, Suffolk, was leading a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) project to rebuild the refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin.

He had previously successfully managed a project to rebuild a vast hospital complex in Pristina, Kosovo.

On 22 November, 2002, Mr Hook was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper who may have been as close as 30 metres from his target.

The marksman was part of special forces troops who had surrounded the nearby hideout of a wanted Islamic Jihad leader.

His death - described as an unlawful killing by an inquest in Ipswich - has prompted Suffolk coroner Peter Dean to write to Prime Minister Tony Blair expressing his concern that 13 UN workers have died at the Jenin camp.

Hours before his death, Mr Hook was in the UN compound trying to keep everyone calm and working to get Israeli permission to evacuate the area.

Dr Peter Hansen
Dr Peter Hansen said 13 UN workers had been shot over four years

Paul Wolstenholme, who was also working in the compound, described how there were no sounds of gunfire 15 minutes before the fatal shot.

"I heard a single shot from the right ring out and Iain grunted and disappeared from view. At this stage he would have been seven metres away from me," said Mr Wolstenholme in a statement to the inquest.

"Hidaya (a UN architect) then shouted Iain had been hit and I went to where he had fallen.

"I found him lying on his back with his head at an angle propped up against the front wheel of Hidaya's car.

"I could see a bullet wound on his lower abdomen above his trouser belt... I could not see any entry wound but his breathing was rasping and irregular.

The UN compound
Iain Hook was shot in a UN compound in Jenin

"On looking up over my left shoulder I could see the glint of a shine from the muzzle of a gun together with the silhouette of a partially hidden person at a distance of 30 to 35 metres."

The job of the inquest was only to find out who had died and how, when and where he met his death. Not why.

But the jury heard clear evidence that it could not have been an accident.

The sniper was from the Israeli special forces, equipped with a medium to high powered rifle, probably with a red laser sight.

He also had radio communication with other troops who overlooked the compound.

And Mr Hook was known to the Israelis. He had to register himself with the authorities to work at the compound and each day passed through a whole host of army checkpoints.

Mr Wolstenholme believes it was not an accident: "It was a deliberate act."

Israel has been very critical of unrest for the last four years. In October 2004 Israel released the video tape it alleged showed militants transporting a rocket in an UNRWA ambulance.

This proved to be false and the Israeli army were forced to withdraw the allegation.

Car wheel tampered with

Mr Hook's former boss Dr Peter Hansen told the inquest that over the last four years 13 UNRWA workers had been shot in similar circumstances.

Others have suggested Mr Hook himself was the target.

The inquest heard that the first time Mr Hook's car was used after the shooting a wheel came off.

It had clearly been tampered with but there was no clear evidence to say whether the wheel bolts had been loosened before or after the shooting.

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