Iraq hostages' bodies flown home

The bodies of Iraq hostages Jason Swindlehurst and Jason Creswell were flown home from Baghdad by the RAF early today, the Foreign Office said.

Their relatives were present when the flight from Baghdad arrived at RAF Lyneham at 5.55am.

The bodies of the two men, both security guards, were handed over to Iraqi authorities last weekend. Three other hostages remain missing.



A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: "The bodies of Jason Swindlehurst and Jason Creswell were repatriated earlier today.

"An RAF flight from Baghdad arrived at RAF Lyneham at 05.55am.

"Family members were present as the flight arrived. Foreign Office staff accompanied them.

"The families have asked for privacy. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

"Foreign Office staff remain in close contact with all the families.

"We continue to do everything we can for the release of the other hostages."

The Oxfordshire Coroner has been informed and will open and adjourn inquests into the deaths before releasing the men's bodies to their families so their funerals can be held, the spokesman added.



Mr Creswell, originally from Glasgow, and Mr Swindlehurst, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, were among a group of five Britons kidnapped in Baghdad on May 29, 2007.

A group of 40 armed men wearing police uniforms seized the hostages, including IT consultant Peter Moore, from Lincoln, and two guards identified only as Alan from Scotland and Alec from South Wales, at the Iraqi Finance Ministry in the capital.

In recent weeks, hopes had risen that the men could soon be freed after the release of a senior Iraqi insurgent at the beginning of the month.

But that hope was dashed when the bodies of Mr Creswell and Mr Swindlehurst were handed over to authorities late last Friday.

Jan Beattie, a friend of Mr Creswell, made a statement on behalf of all five families at the time, speaking of their "profound grief".

She said: "We are deeply stunned and saddened by the tragic and upsetting news of the deaths of Jason Creswell and Jason Swindlehurst.

"We ask those still holding Alec, Alan and Peter to release them and allow them to return home to their families as soon as possible."

In February last year, a video broadcast by Dubai-based TV station Al-Arabiya showed a bearded and tired-looking Mr Moore asking Prime Minister Gordon Brown to free nine Iraqis in exchange for the British hostages.

He said: "All I want is to leave this place. I tell Gordon Brown the matter is simple: release their prisoners so we can go."

Five months later, the hostage-takers claimed that one of the two Jasons had committed suicide.

Mr Moore's father Graeme, 59, has angrily condemned the Government's handling of the case, describing Foreign Secretary David Miliband as a "total waste of space".

The delivery driver from Leicestershire said he continued to hope his son was alive, but described the wait for any news as "torture".

Mr Brown said he has told the Iraqi Prime Minister the Government is determined to secure the release of the remaining captives.

Responsibility for the kidnapping was at first pinned on Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

It was thought to be a retaliatory attack for the killing by British forces of the militia's commander in Basra, southern Iraq, a week earlier.

But al-Sadr's followers denied responsibility and suspicion fell on splinter groups which the US believes are controlled by Iran.

The release of leading Shiite insurgent Laith al-Khazali by US forces on 6 June had sparked fresh hopes the Britons could be freed.

Al-Khazali is a senior member of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or the League of the Righteous, which has been linked to the kidnapping.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Cabinet Maker / Joiner

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This bespoke furniture and inte...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic and Motion Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Do you get a buzz from thinking up new ideas a...

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£14500 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Female Care Worker

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This expanding, vibrant charity which su...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones