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THE family of a young man who died hours after being released from police custody say they are still no closer to getting answers a year on from his untimely death.
Relatives of Mohamud Hassan, who died a year ago today, have condemned the police watchdog for continuing to refuse them access to police bodycam footage of the night before the 24-year-old’s death.
Hassan was arrested at his home on January 8, 2021, on suspicion of a breach of the peace, and was released the next morning without charge from Cardiff Bay Police station.
He was found dead at his flat in Newport Road later that day. The incident triggered a series of local protests demanding answers about the circumstances surrounding his death.
But, 12 months on, and the family are still waiting for answers with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC)’s investigation, launched last January, yet to be released. The watchdog previously said its probe would take up to nine months.
Hassan’s aunt Zainab told the Morning Star that her nephew, who was the oldest of five siblings, was a young “happy family man,” whose family has been left “broken” by his death.
She said the lack of answers in the 12 months since has compounded the family’s suffering.
“It’s affected them really really badly, especially the youngest of the siblings because they just don’t understand how to process this,” she said. “They keep asking for answers and we don’t have any answers to tell them.
“They feel let down. I feel I can’t even say to them we’ll get justice, because will we? Here we are a year on and nothing has happened. It’s just sad really. It’s heartbreaking.”
The family have issued a series of demands on the first anniversary of Hassan’s death, including for the Home Secretary Priti Patel and Attorney General Suella Braverman to intervene in the case to give them access to the police body-cam and CCTV footage.
“Had the footage of Mohamud's last moments been released to us, then we would have been spared the slow torturous agony of consistently speculating day by day on precisely what happened to him that awful night,” they said in a statement.
Hilary Brown, the family’s legal representative, said that the refusal to share the footage has “significantly contributed to the ongoing trauma suffered by the family.”
Details from the IOPC’s probe disclosed so far show that Hassan came into contact with more than 50 officers during the short time he stayed in custody. Six South Wales Police officers have been handed notices of misconduct by the IOPC.
The family are also calling for the six officers to be suspended. Lee Jasper, a spokesperson for the Mohamud Hassan justice campaign and human rights activist, said: “In no other profession can you be under investigation for suspicion of causing death and remain at work.”
The calls come ahead of a “Twitter storm” on Sunday calling for justice for the 24-year old. His family have urged the public to support the action, taking place between 5pm and 7pm today.
IOPC director for Wales Catrin Evans said on Friday that the investigation is “well advanced and nearing completion,” and a report was being “finalised.”
“We have kept his family, along with the coroner and South Wales Police, updated on the progress of what has been a detailed and complex investigation,” she said.
Ms Evans added that the watchdog is working towards sharing the footage with the family “as soon as we are able,” but that “we also need to take account of the need to safeguard the inquest into his death, which may be heard before a jury, and other potential future proceedings.”
South Wales Police said in a statement: “The force continues to fully co-operate with the IOPC investigation and has provided them with information and material, including CCTV footage and body-worn video.”
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