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Iraq: Father of abducted activist shot dead after calling for justice

Iraqi policemen stand guard outside the Central Bank of Iraq headquarters along Rashid Street in the centre of the capital Baghdad on 22 December 2020. [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images]
Iraqi policemen in Baghdad, Iraq on 22 December 2020. [AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images]

The father of an abducted Iraqi activist was shot dead yesterday after campaigning to bring the militia suspected of abducting his son to justice.

Jasb Hattab Aboud was killed by a single gunshot to the head, Ali Al-Bayati, a spokesperson for the Independent Human Rights Commission said.

The shooting took place at 6pm yesterday in the southern Iraqi city of Amara, Al-Bayati confirmed, according to the National.

The perpetrators have yet to be identified by local security officials, the report added.

Aboud was reportedly known for his outspoken campaign for justice for his son, Ali Jasb, a lawyer who went missing with several other activists during mass anti-government protests in October 2019.

Most families of missing activists have been more reserved in their search for justice due to fears of reprisal.

However, Aboud had publicly accused a powerful Iranian-backed militia of kidnapping his son, and sought to take the group's leader to court, the Associated Press reported.

The agency followed Aboud's search for justice against the leader of Ansar Allah Al-Awfia in the Iraqi courts.

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Reporters said the case "revealed the weakness of Iraq's judicial institutions vis-à-vis the growing power of militia groups."

Aboud's case had hearings in the courts of Missan province, where Amara is located, before it transferred to Baghdad.

The case was eventually halted when an investigative judge in Baghdad deemed there was insufficient evidence to pursue the suit.

During the course of the court case, Aboud appeared regularly in local media calling for justice for his missing son.

He also frequently travelled six hours by bus from Amara to Baghdad in order to visit his lawyer, the Associated Press reported.

Ali Jasb was abducted in Amara on 8 October 2019. The final sighting of the 21-year-old was captured by a surveillance camera.

In the footage, a woman can be seen greeting Jasb before he is grabbed by two men, forced into a black SUV and driven away.

The woman is then seen climbing into a waiting pickup truck. The kidnap took just 30 seconds. He has not been heard from since.

The footage and Jasb's kidnap have become a symbol of terror campaign waged by militias who are believed to have abducted and killed over 60 activists.

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