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FLAME OF HOPE: A peace candle at
Wellington's Cenotaph burns near Serena Moran, one
of a group of peace activists holding a vigil for
the four hostages in Iraq.
Another 48 hours of hope 09 December
By ANNA SAUNDERS,
MATTHEW TORBIT AND NZPA
The family of an Auckland student facing execution
by his Iraqi captors say a 48-hour extension to their death
threat has brought "relief tinged with anxiety".
Harmeet Singh Sooden and three others
were due to be executed yesterday when an Arabic television
network reported that the deadline had been extended till
Mr Sooden's brother-in-law Mark Brewer
did not know why the deadline had been extended.
"Obviously today was the deadline and a
moving deadline is much better," he said. But it meant another
agonising wait for the family.
Mr Brewer, wife Preety and Mr Sooden's
parents spent yesterday morning "pacing the floor, answering
phones and waiting for news".
Mr Sooden, 32, is a Canadian citizen, but
has studied in New Zealand for three years. He and Canadian
James Loney, Briton Norman Kember and American Tom Fox were in
Iraq with the anti-war Christian Peacemaker Teams.
Their Iraqi captors, calling themselves
the Swords of Righteousness Brigade, said it would kill the
men unless all prisoners in American and Iraqi detention
centres were freed by December 8.
Al Jazeera television showed video
footage of Mr Fox and Mr Kember blindfolded, shackled and
wearing Guantanamo Bay-style orange jumpsuits and appealing to
their governments to stop the war.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said
no country could meet the captors' demands.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston
Peters said the lack of contact with the
Iraqi captors was hugely frustrating.
Last night more than 20 peace activists
gathered at the Cenotaph in Wellington as part of a vigil of
hope for the captives.
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