New video 'shows Hassan murder'

Mrs Hassan had lived in Iraq for 30 years and married an Iraqi

A video apparently showing the murder of aid worker Margaret Hassan seems to be genuine, says the Foreign Office.

"We now believe that she has probably been murdered", Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said after analysing the tape.

Her Iraqi husband, Tahseen Ali Hassan, has made a plea for her body to be returned to him "to rest in peace".

Mrs Hassan, who has Irish, British and Iraqi nationality, was seized by an unknown group in the Iraqi capital on 19 October.

'Stand condemned'

British Prime Minister Tony Blair sent his sympathy to Mrs Hassan's family, saying he "shared their abhorrence" at her treatment.

And Bertie Ahern, the Irish Republic's Prime Minister, said her kidnappers "stand condemned by everyone throughout the entire international community".

"We now have to accept that Margaret has probably gone and at last her suffering has ended."
Mrs Hassan's family

Arabic TV news channel Al Jazeera has said it has had a copy of the videotape for several days but has chosen not to broadcast it.

The video apparently shows a militant firing a pistol into the head of a blindfolded woman wearing an orange jumpsuit.

A spokesman for Al Jazeera said he presumed the woman was Mrs Hassan.

Mr Hassan has appealed to the kidnappers to return his wife's body.

"I beg those people who took Margaret to tell me what they have done with her," he said.

"They can tell me. They can call the helpline. I need her. I need her back to rest in peace."


Mrs Hassan's brother and sisters, Michael, Deirdre, Kathryn and Geraldine Fitzsimons, said in a statement that their "hearts are broken".

They said: "We have kept hoping for as long as we could, but we now have to accept that Margaret has probably gone and at last her suffering has ended.

Mr Hassan made an emotional plea for her body to be returned

"She had no prejudice against any creed. She dedicated her whole life to working for the poor and vulnerable, helping those who had no-one else."

They described her murder as "unforgivable", adding: "The gap she leaves will never be filled."

Felicity Arbuthnot, a freelance journalist who was a close friend of Mrs Hassan, said she was both sad and angry at the aid worker's apparent death.

"It is an horrific irony that someone who had fought for this country should die in this way," she said.

Mrs Hassan was driving to work as director of aid agency Care International's Iraq operations when she was seized. The agency has since halted work in the country.

The 59-year-old, who has lived in Iraq for 30 years, appeared in several videos during her captivity calling for Britain to withdraw from Iraq, and for women prisoners to be freed.

If her death is confirmed, the aid worker will be the first foreign female hostage to have been murdered in Iraq amid a recent wave of hostage-takings.

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