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Iraqi gets life in jail for Hassan kidnapping

Written by: Staff
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BAGHDAD, June 5 (Reuters) A Baghdad court sentenced an Iraqi man to life imprisonment today in connection with the 2004 abduction and killing of Iraqi-British aid worker Margaret Hassan.

A court official said that Mustafa Salman had been charged with aiding and abetting the kidnappers. Two other defendants in the case were freed.

The judge said Salman had received a plastic bag from an associate who asked him to hold on to it. Four months later Iraqi security forces raided Salman's home and found Hassan's purse and documents in the bag.

Hassan, an Iraqi-British national who had lived in Iraq for more than three decades after marrying an Iraqi engineer, was head of the Iraqi operation of the CARE International charity.

She was abducted while travelling to work in Baghdad in October 2004, and was killed about a month later after appealing in video messages made by her abductors for British forces to withdraw from Iraq.

No group claimed responsibility for the abduction or the killing, and her body has not been found.

Her kidnapping came at the height of a wave of abductions of foreigners in Iraq, including two Italian aid workers, the British contractor Kenneth Bigley, who was also killed, and two American contractors working with him.

In May 2005, US and Iraqi forces arrested several people in a raid southeast of Baghdad believed to be linked to Hassan's murder.

Police said at the time that 11 people had been detained, and that five had admitted complicity in the killing.

Hassan, 59, was widely known in the aid community as a tireless worker for impoverished and marginalised Iraqis.

More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since US-led forces invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein. More than 40 of them have been killed, some of them beheaded.

REUTERS KD PM1707

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