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Police still to ‘identify’ migrant five weeks on from his suicide

The body of the Ghanian national who committed suicide has not yet been released by the police because his identity 'has not yet been established'

Jurgen Balzan
28 March 2017, 12:42pm
Frederick Ofosu’s body has not yet been released for a proper burial, angering friends who want to bid the Ghanian a proper farewell
Frederick Ofosu’s body has not yet been released for a proper burial, angering friends who want to bid the Ghanian a proper farewell
The body of the Ghanian national who committed suicide after his voluntary repatriation process was halted, has not yet been released by the police because “the identity of the corpse has not yet been established.”

Frederick Ofosu – a Ghanaian asylum seeker – committed suicide more than five weeks ago, but his body has not yet been released for a proper burial.

A police spokesperson had told MaltaToday month ago that “the body will be released when the Magisterial inquiry is concluded and there is a correct identity.”

Ahmed Bugri, director for the Foundation for Shelter and Support for Migrants – who has already identified Ofosu together with a Ghanaian embassy official – told MaltaToday that the Ghanaian High Commission was cooperating with the authorities, even offering to put the police in contact with Ofosu’s family and friends in Ghana.

The police have also confirmed that an autopsy has been performed. 

However, despite all efforts being made the body has not been released, and Bugri says he “cannot understand” the reasons why.

Apparently, Ofosu left a recorded message for friends explaining his despair, saying he was being forced to feel like a criminal. Friends of Ofosu said his mental state had further deteriorated after government announced that it would not be renewing the THPn protection, a status for failed asylum seekers who have not been deported by the government. 

However, soon after Ofosu’s death, home affairs minister Carmelo Ablea announced a U-turn on the suspension of THPn, saying that “irrespective of whether it’s called THPn or something else, those who today enjoy THPn will continue to enjoy the benefits that come with it.” 

Welcoming the reversal of the original plans to remove THPn, Bugri said “at least Frederic Ofosu’s death has served to change the state of affairs in terms of temporary protection for migrants.”

But the delay in releasing the migrant’s body is being seen as a tactic to quell the anger which the suicide generated, given that Ofosu’s voluntary repatriation was stalled over a technicality relating to unpaid court fines on a separate case.

Ofosu was found strangled with an electric cable in a Qawra building site on Saturday, 18 February and left a recorded message explaining why he killed himself. Abela has shed doubt on the existence of the recording.

Sources in the know say that in the recording, Ofosu apparently said he was being made to feel like a criminal, when he had done nothing wrong. 

In a press conference given three days after the suicide, Abela said the Ghanaian had been refused THPn status three times, and that in September 2016 he had applied for assisted voluntary return: a programme that grants returning migrants a financial support package. 

But the process had to be halted, due to pending fines he had yet to pay on a 2016 court case when Ofosu was accused of damaging his rented apartment in St Paul’s Bay. In the proceedings however, Ofosu said that his attempts to go back to Ghana were being hampered by excessive bureaucracy and told the court that he intentionally smashed the furniture of his rented apartment in a desperate cry for attention to his plight.

He was handed a suspended one-year prison sentence and ordered to pay an €800 fine. He was also ordered to pay the landlord €2,115.

Ofosu came to Malta to flee extreme poverty and worked for a number of years, but after he lost his job he was faced with a number of demands from the authorities, including documentation he could not provide.

Jurgen Balzan joined MaltaToday in 2011, specialising in politics, foreig...