Robert Pether, an engineer from Sydney and whose wife and children are residents in Elphin, Co. Roscommon, was detained in Baghdad on April 7th.
Senator Murphy, who raised the issue in the Seanad on Monday last, said Mr. Pether had been detained with no explanation and has had no contact with his wife and three children, all of whom are Irish citizens.
“Robert Pether was arrested on April 7th when he arrived at a meeting with his client, the Central Bank of Iraq in Baghdad.
“Mr. Pether’s wife, Desree, is distraught. She and her three children are Irish citizens and they have been living in Elphin for the past number of years and often travel to be with Mr. Pether at his job sites while he also visits his family in Roscommon.
“Mr. Pether is held in high regard in the Elphin community, and everyone is anxious to see him released,” Senator Murphy said.
Mr. Pether is said to have worked on a number of rebuilding projects in war-torn parts of the Middle East over the past ten years and regularly travels between Iraq, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Bahrain as part of his job.
“I understand that while working on site in Dubai, Mr. Pether and his manager were contacted by the Central Bank of Iraq, which demanded they return immediately for a meeting to resolve a dispute about a new building project in Baghdad.
“When they arrived, they were immediately taken into custody and I understand that both men are now in solitary confinement but are being treated well. It seems to be some sort of contractual dispute and Mr. Pether has unfortunately become caught in the middle,” Senator Murphy added.
The Fianna Fáil Senator said that Mr. Pether would regularly contact his family several times a day and that his wife was only made aware of his detention after speaking with her husband’s company.