Outspoken father of missing lawyer shot dead in Iraq

Outspoken father of missing human rights lawyer shot dead in Iraq
2 min read
11 March, 2021
Jaseb Hattab had publicly accused a militia belonging to the Iran-backed PMF of orchestrating his son's kidnapping and tried to take its commander to court.
Jaseb Hattab had campaigned vigorously for his son's case [Twitter]

Unknown gunmen in southern Iraq on Wednesday shot dead the father of a human rights lawyer who was forcibly disappeared in October 2019.

Jaseb Hattab, the father of Ali Jaseb, had campaigned vigorously for authorities to investigate his son's case after he was allegedly abducted by armed men belonging to Iraq's Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) during the height of the country's anti-government protests in October 2019.

Amnesty International had already warned in November of a threat to kill family members of the missing lawyer, after they appeared on TV to highlight his case.

Security sources told Iraqi media that unknown assailants riding a motorbike fired fatal shots at Hattab as he walked back to his house in Amarah, the capital of southeast Maysan province on Wednesday.

Local sources told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister-site that police have arrested a number of people in relation to the case.

Maysan's Police Directorate made a post on Facebook confirming the arrests and investigation - which suggested the killing was due to a "tribal conflict" - but later deleted it.

A subsequent post by the directorate said that one suspect had been caught, without giving further details.

Ali Jaseb's father had publicly accused Ansaraullah Al-Awfiya, a Shia militia belonging to the Iran-backed PMF militia network, of kidnapping his son. He unsuccessfully attempted to take the group's local commander to court.

In September, he met with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi who promised to work on his case. An open letter by Amnesty International in November cited that promise, while notin there was "a lack of progress in his case, now compounded by repeated threats to his family".

Read also: Alleged kidnapping of activist's 10-year-old son provokes stir in Iraq

Ali Jaseb, a lawyer, was one of a number of activists who vanished at the height of Iraq's mass anti-government demonstrations in October 2019. Surveillance footage captured his abduction in Amara on 8 October, the last day he was seen.

His father's campaign for justice drew the attention of Iraqi and international media. Associated Press reported that he routinely took a six-hour bus journey from his rural hometown to Baghdad to meet his lawyer.

Iraq's judicial authorities have been accused of refusing to confront armed militias who are blamed for the abduction and targeted killing of scores of anti-government activists.

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