Martin 'shocked' by escape of aid worker's killer
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Micheal Martin has written to his Iraqi counterpart to express his concern over the apparent prison break by the convicted killer of Irish aid worker Margaret Hassan.
Ms Hassan (59) had lived in Iraq for 30 years before being taken hostage in October 2004 and shot a month later.
Her body has never been recovered.
In his letter to the Iraqi foreign minister, Mr Martin told him that it had been a "major shock" to Ms Hassan's family when they heard her killer, Ali Lufti Jassar, had escaped from his prison cell. He said they had expressed dismay at this turn of events and had asked the Government for assistance.
"I share the family's concerns and upset at these reports and I would ask the Iraqi government for clarification on the location of Mr Lutfi Jassar," he said.
Lutfi Jassar was sentenced to life imprisonment a year ago for the killing but was facing a retrial in Baghdad.
Mr Martin pointed out that the family of Ms Hassan had suffered a great deal due to the trauma of her kidnap, the subsequent brutal murder and then the failure to locate her body.
"The family is very anxious that Margaret is buried according to her own religion.
"I would ask that the family be given every assistance in their quest to retrieve Margaret's body for a Christian burial," Mr Martin wrote to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebri.
"I believe that the family have suffered enough and look forward to your co-operation in this matter," he said.
Lutfi Jassar was arrested two years ago after he demanded money for revealing the whereabouts of the body.
But he claimed not to have been involved in her capture and that he was coerced into giving incriminating evidence.
Mr Martin wrote that he clearly had detailed information on the murder and had claimed to be in a position to identify Ms Hassan's burial place.
"Thus, the family was hopeful that he could eventually pass this information to the Iraqi authorities," the Foreign Affairs Minister said.
Ms Hassan was head of operations in Iraq for the humanitarian group Care International for around 12 years before she was pulled from her car by men in police uniform as she was being driven to work.
She was born in Dublin and had Irish and British dual citizenship.