An Iraqi justice official has acknowledged that a man convicted of the 2004 murder of international aid worker Margaret Hassan has escaped from prison -- and that the escape happened almost one year ago.
Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim told news agencies that an investigation had revealed that the convict, Ali Lutfi Jassar al-Rawi, escaped from Central Baghdad Prison, formerly known as Abu Ghraib, in September 2009 and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
The minister said the escape occurred at the time of riots at the prison, and that the convict was believed to have had the help of prison guards in making his escape.
The minister added that he only learned about the escape within the past month.
Hassan's family had recently begun saying that the convict had escaped after his retrial was repeatedly postponed -- apparently because the authorities could not locate him in the prison.
The kidnap and murder of Hassan, who was director of the humanitarian group Care International in Iraq, was one of the most high-profile killings to follow the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Her killing led some international aid organizations to suspend activities in Iraq and to evacuate foreign staff.
The Irish-born Hassan was married to an Iraqi and had Iraqi citizenship.
compiled from agency reports