Fears that mysterious murder of Ivorian could be ‘crime aimed at instilling terror’

‘If this was a racially-motivated incident, Malta would be called upon to face far more than an act of assault, but far graver crime aimed at instilling terror in entire communities’ 

Lassine Souleyman, 42, was murdered in cold blood near Birzebbugia
Lassine Souleyman, 42, was murdered in cold blood near Birzebbugia

Malta will have to face up to what was an act of terror if the murder of 42-year-old Ivorian Lassine Souleymane turn out to have been racially motivated, a coalition of NGOs has warned. 

The 23 NGOs have urged Malta’s highest authorities to “unequivocally condemn all forms of violence,” whatever their motivation. 

“We caution that, should it emerge that this was, in fact, a racially-motivated incident, Malta would be called upon to face far more than an act of assault, but far graver crime aimed at instilling terror in entire communities.” 

They called for the police to “step up” and commit all necessary resources to bring the “perpetrator” to justice, and to ensure that saviours are treated as victims of crime and guaranteed the support and protection they require. 

READ: Drive-by shooting in Birzebbuga: one killed, two injured, murderer on the run 

“Importantly we underline the need to comfort and express solidarity with all residents of Ħal Far, assuring that all will be done to restore good order and security for the locality’s communities.” 

The Ivorian was killed on the spot after being shot in the head on Saturday, 6 April at 11pm. Two other injured men, both from Ghana, were found a short distance away from the victim. But police believe they may have been with the Ivorian and were escaping the gunfire that came from the passenger side of a white Toyota Starlett. 

The incident happened in Triq il-Ġebel, a country lane, that connects Hal Far road with the centre of Birżebbuġa. It is commonly used by residents at the Hal Far open centre to reach Birżebbuġa. 

Sources said the men were walking towards Hal Far and the car approached from the front. All three were immigrants residing at the open centre. 

The 23 NGOs joined forces to express their deep sadness over the death of Souleymane. “We are deeply saddened by the news of the death of Lassibe Souleymane, brutally shot in Ħal Far over the weekend. We also wish all the very best to the two other victims of the shooting and hope they recover without permanent or serious damage. Whatever the actual reasons for this terrible incident, it affects not only the three victims but the entire migrant community in creating a sense of fear, lack of security and isolation.” 

The following organisations endorsed the statement: Aditus Foundation, African Media Association Malta, Allied Rainbow Communities, Blue Door English, The Critical Institute, Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning, University of Malta, Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants, Integra Foundation, International Association for Refugees, Isles of the Left, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), LGBTI Plus Gozo, Malta Emigrants’ Commission, Malta Humanist Association, Malta LGBTIQ Rights Movement, Men Against Violence, Moviment Graffitti, National Foster Care Association Malta, Richmond Foundation, Solidarity with Migrants, Spark15, Victim Support Malta and Women’s Rights Foundation.

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