Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Irish aid worker’s killer may be freed

The family of murdered Irish aid worker Margaret Hassan have voiced fears that the only person jailed for her killing could walk free after a retrial.

Mrs Hassan (59), the director of humanitarian group Care International in Iraq, was taken hostage on her way to work in Baghdad in October 2004 and shot dead a month later.

Iraqi architect Ali Lutfi Jassar was jailed for life at Baghdad's Central Criminal Court last June for his part in her abduction and murder and for attempting to blackmail family.

But in November he was granted the right to a retrial, and Mrs Hassan's family fear he could now have his sentence cut or even be released. This could dash their hopes of finding her body so they can bring her back to Britain for a Christian burial.

Mrs Hassan’s sister, Deirdre Manchanda, said: “We want Ali Lutfi Jassar to stay in prison because we are convinced he was definitely part of the kidnap gang because he knew too much to have got it from the internet or any other source.

“The other reason we want him to stay in prison is he's claimed many, many times in these transcripts to know where Margaret's remains are.

“We want to find our sister's remains because we want to bring her home to be buried and we want justice for her. It's not just justice for Margaret. It's justice for everybody. It's justice for the people of Iraq and it's justice for the British people because she was British. Apart from anything else, a terrorist murderer should not be on the streets of Baghdad.”

Jassar was arrested in 2008 after contacting the British embassy in Baghdad and attempting to extort £0.65m in return for leading them to Mrs Hassan's body.

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

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