Brother of British hostage in Iraq slams US policy; No confirmation for report on execution of Italian women
The brother of British hostage in Iraq Kenneth Bigley accused the US-led authorities of having "sabotaged" his safe release by refusing to free a detained woman scientist.
Paul Bigley told BBC radio that there had been "a shadow of light in a big, long, dark, damp, filthy, cold tunnel" when an Iraqi judge on Wednesday approved the release of the scientist, as demanded by his brother's captors.
"Now this has been sabotaged" by the US refusal to allow the scientist, Rihab Taha, out of prison, Bigley noted.
Kenneth Bigley, 62, made an emotional appeal to British Prime Minister Tony Blair late Wednesday to save his life.
Paul Bigley revealed that he has been making personal contacts of his own in the Middle East to secure his brother's release, but stressed Thursday that American policy was working against that target.
He continued: "A judge (in Iraq) has made a legal decision to release three people, one female and two males. The minister of justice has endorsed this (and) published this on international news.
"Based on this, together with my lobbying in the background, my personal lobbying in the background in the Middle East, we have a stay of execution and we have saved my brother's life for at least 24 hours.
"Now this has been sabotaged. I mean, you know, is this a puppet government, or are the Americans moving the goalposts to suit their own means again? What's going on here? Leave the Iraqis to do their own Iraqi business."
Meanwhile, an Internet statement by a group which claimed to have kidnapped two Italian aid workers in Iraq said late Wednesday it had killed the women. The Web site posting could not be immediately verified.
Italian state radio's correspondent in New York, covering Foreign Minister Franco Frattini at the U.N. General Assembly session, quoted ministry spokesman Michele Valensise saying there was no confirmation of the claim, The AP reported.
The Italian Foreign Ministry's Crisis Unit in Rome said it was trying to check out the authenticity of the claim.
"We in the Jihad Organization of Iraq declared that the verdict of God Almighty against the two Italian prisoners has been carried out, by slaughtering them," the statement said. (albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)