Police release body of migrant 65 days after his suicide

The body of the Ghanian who committed suicide was finally released by the police yesterday, 65 days after his death

Frederick Ofosu
Frederick Ofosu

The body of the Ghanian national who committed suicide after his voluntary repatriation process was halted, was finally released by the police yesterday, 65 days after his death.

The police previously justified their refusal to release the body by saying that “the identity of the corpse has not yet been established.” 

Now, the Ghanian community is set to organise a long overdue funeral for Frederick Ofosu, with the ceremony set to be held over the weekend. 

Speaking to MaltaToday last month, Ahmed Bugri, director for the Foundation for Shelter and Support for Migrants – who had already identified Ofosu together with a Ghanaian embassy official – said he “cannot understand” the reasons why the police were refusing to release the body.

He had also said 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. 

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.  

The delay in releasing the migrant’s body was 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. 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.”  

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.