Mastermind of Hassan killing 'escaped' from Iraq prison
The convicted mastermind of the killing of British aid worker Margaret Hassan has escaped from prison, having earlier been jailed, Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim told AFP on Sunday.
"This guy (Ali Lutfi Jassar al-Rawi), he escaped from prison," Ibrahim said.
"People facilitated his escape, he is gone."
Ibrahim's remarks were the first time Rawi's escape, more than a year after he was sentenced for Hassan's killing, has been confirmed by a justice official, with court officials having previously only said he was missing.
Earlier, Rawi's retrial had been adjourned, with a judicial official and a lawyer for Hassan's family saying that authorities had not been able to locate the defendant for more than a month.
Ali Lutfi Jassar al-Rawi was jailed after being sentenced to life in prison on June 2 last year, but last month a lawyer for Hassan's family said that a senior prison official had told a judge that Rawi's whereabouts were unknown.
Hassan's kidnap and murder, one of the most high-profile killings to follow the US-led invasion of 2003, had sparked international revulsion and widespread sympathy.
Lawyers for Rawi have claimed that an alleged confession put before the court of first instance was extracted under torture.
His retrial had originally been scheduled to begin in April, but has repeatedly been delayed.
© 2010 AFP