Life sentence for man who helped aid worker's killers

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The Independent Online

A 30-year-old Iraqi man was yesterday convicted of helping the kidnappers of the British aid worker Margaret Hassan.

Mustafa Salman was convicted of aiding and abetting the kidnappers, and sentenced to life in prison. Two other suspects were acquitted, a court official said. Ms Hassan, 59, the director of CARE international in Iraq, was abducted in Baghdad in October 2004. She was killed a month later, and her body has never been found. She was married to an Iraqi and had lived in Iraq for 30 years, and was one of the highest profile figures to fall victim to kidnappings in Iraq.

Gunmen wearing police uniforms raided bus stations yesterday in central Baghdad, seizing at least 50 people, including drivers and passengers preparing to travel outside Iraq, an interior ministry official said.

The attackers also grabbed people working in the area, where several travel agencies are based and buses pick up passengers travelling mostly to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, Lt Col Falah al-Mohamedawi said. The victims were herded into more than a dozen vehicles, according to witnesses. It was not known who was behind the attack.

"They took all workers from the companies and nearby shops," said Haidar Mohammed Eleibi, who works in the Salihiya business district.

He said his brother and a cousin were among those detained, along with merchants, passers-by and even a vendor selling tea and sandwiches were seized. "They did not give any reason for it," he said. "Police came afterward and did nothing."

Another transportation worker Amjad Hameed said 15 cars belonging to police began randomly seizing people. "We asked them why but nobody replied," he said, adding that Iraqi forces and Americans came later.