Category: Archive

Hassan case still open, but far from resolved

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The Dublin-born aid worker was murdered in November, 2004, reportedly by a gunshot to the head. Her body has not been recovered.
Now, 15 months after the brutal slaying, the Hassan case has not been closed.
However, it is understood that just one individual is being held in custody whereas there were reports in mid-2005 that several individuals had actually confessed to taking part in the murder of Hassan.
In recent weeks, a story in a leading Italian newspaper, La Reppublica, suggested that Hassan died because a ransom demand of $10 million had not been met.
The paper pointed to payments of $5 million each for two Italian aid workers kidnapped around the same time.
The report suggested that when the question was posed as to why one woman’s life would cost the same as the lives of two, Hassan’s fate might have been sealed.
In may of last year a security sweep south of Baghdad netted a group of men who quickly became prime suspects in the Hassan case.
Clothing and paperwork with Hassan’s name were found during the early morning sweep.
The Echo reported at the time that, according to U.S. officials, “several of those apprehended have already confessed to taking part in her killing.”
Hassan, who was 59, was kidnapped on the morning of Oct. 19, 2004, while she was on her way to work as country director at the Baghdad offices of the Brussels-based aid agency, CARE.
In the days that followed the kidnapping, Hassan appeared in videos taken by her captors.
The first appeared shortly after she disappeared. In it she called for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq and the release of female Iraqi prisoners.
A second tape emerged on Nov. 2. It was not widely aired but it was reported at the time to show Hassan pleading for her life and then fainting.
Later in November a videotape apparently showing the murder of Hassan was obtained by the Arabic-language television news network, Al-Jazeera.
Al-Jazeera said at the time that it had in its possession a video showing a gunman firing a pistol into the back of the head of a blindfolded woman.
The belief at the time, and to this day, was that the video recorded Hassan’s lonely death.
Her murder occurred despite worldwide pleas including one from the Irish government, which stressed Hassan’s Irish birth as well as her Iraqi citizenship.
Following the murder, Hassan’s husband, Tahseen Al Hassan pleaded for her killers to reveal what they had done with his wife’s body.
There was no response.
In the months that followed, the questions as to the whereabouts of Hassan’s remains fell deeper into the morass that is the daily security situation in most of Iraq.
But the investigation continues. A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin said that that the Irish government had remained in constant contact with the Iraqi authorities with respect to the kidnap and murder of Hassan.
The case, said a spokesman, was still being accorded the highest priority and that there were ongoing official contacts with the Iraqi government “at the highest political levels.”
The Irish government, the spokesman said, was also working closely with the U.S. and British governments on the Hassan case. Hassan was born to Irish and British parents and had access to three passports, Irish, Iraqi and British.
The demand by Hassan’s kidnappers — that Iraqi women be released from prisons — has been eerily reflected in the demands made in recent days by those holding American journalist Jill Carroll.
As in the case with Margaret Hassan, Carroll is being called a friend of the Iraqi people in pleas for her release being aired on Iraqi TV.
Her captors have delivered a new deadline for the release of prisoners, Feb. 26, after which they say they will kill the 28-year-old reporter if their demands are not met.

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