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Retrial postponed for Iraqi in Briton's death

Retrial postponed for Iraqi in Briton's death

An Iraqi man convicted in the 2004 kidnapping and slaying of a prominent British aid worker will be retried after he claimed he was out of the country at the time of the killing, an attorney for the victim's family said Monday.
The retrial was scheduled to begin Monday but was postponed until April 18 because officials are still investigating the claim, said Sarmad al-Sarraf, an attorney for the family of Margaret Hassan.
The Irish-born Hassan, who was married to an Iraqi and had lived in the country for 30 years, was among the highest profile figures to fall victim to the wave of kidnappings that swept the country in the early years of the war.
She was seized in October 2004 on her way to work in Baghdad, where she served as director of CARE International in Iraq.
Last year, an Iraqi court convicted Sunni architect Ali Lutfi al-Rawi of kidnapping, murder and extortion and sentenced him to life in prison in the case. But an appeals court ordered a new trial after al-Rawi alleged that he left Iraq five days before the abduction and did not return until early 2005.
Al-Sarraf said he is confident in the original trial's outcome and does not believe the new claims will change the verdict.
Shortly after her abduction, a terrified Hassan was shown on a video trembling and pleading for her life as she urged then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair to withdraw British troops from Iraq. She was killed a month later and her body has not been found.
Al-Rawi was arrested in 2008 after he allegedly phoned the British Embassy in Baghdad to demand $1 million in exchange for information about the location of Hassan's remains.
Authorities first believed the contact was simply to extort money but later changed their mind after the caller mentioned an intimate, undisclosed detail about Hassan that only her closest relatives and friends knew.
In his first trial, al-Rawi told the court he had been beaten and given electrical shocks during the interrogation and had been forced to sign a confession. But the court dismissed his claims, ruling that the voice on the tapes of telephone calls to the British Embassy matched his.


Updated : 2021-04-17 06:50 GMT+08:00