MOGADISHU, Somalia – At least 12 people have been arrested in connection with the rape and murder of a 19-year-old girl in Somalia, police said in a statement following growing international pressure on increasing cases of rape and torture against women and girls in the Horn of Africa nation.
Hamadi Mohamed Farah was raped by a group of unknown men on Friday in Mogadishu before being thrown from the 6th floor of a building, according to police reports. The circumstances behind the incident are still mysterious, and police have been working around the clock to get the culprits arrested.
Deputy Police Commissioner Zakia Hussein announced the arrest of a highly suspected Wednesday, and recent developments could possibly release the stalemate surrounding the death of the student who died on the spot after being thrown from the building.
The police chief took to his Twitter to announce the arrest of a Mohamed Ibrahim Osman, 24, who is believed to have a hand in gang rape. The suspect was arrested in Adado, central Somalia, she said, adding that a total of 12 people have been arrested so far.
“Mohamed Ibrahim Osman, 24, arrested in Adado, central Somalia, on suspicion of complicity in gang rape and killing of 19-year-old student Hamadi Mohamed Farah in Mogadishu last Friday night,” said the police chief, who has been keen on after the case, said Wednesday.
“He was trying to escape justice. Now, 12 in jail for the heinous act,” added Mrs Hussein, one of the few women serving in top government offices who has closely followed gender-based violence in addition to pressuring on for prosecution in the Horn of Africa.
It is clear that Mohamed Ibrahim Osman tried to escape justice in Mogadishu and traveled through the state of Galmadug to northern regions. Police have not yet issued reports of accounts leading to his arrest, but sources say those in police custody could have given the decisive leads to the officers.
In a statement on Tuesday, police said 11 people had been arrested in Mogadishu in connection with the incident. So far, police have not yet revealed their identities, but sources say the police had made “enormous” progress in the case, which has provoked sharp reactions from members of the international community.
For most of the weekend, various human rights groups organized peaceful demonstrations in the capital Mogadishu, calling for swift arrests and prosecution of perpetrators. The groups condemned the government over what they called “lack of better laws to strengthen proper prosecution”.
Cases of rape in Somalia have been steadily rising, but a number of them go unnoticed due to a dysfunctional justice system. Most of these cases end up being resolved at village levels, where elders who have a strong influence end up coming up with negotiated amnesty, which after all is not popular.