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Camden News - by PAUL KEILTHY
Published: 5 June 2008
Sharma'arke Hassan's parents Fatima Mohamed Ilmi and Abdirahman Hassan Jimale
Sharma’arke Hassan’s parents Fatima Mohamed Ilmi and Abdirahman Hassan Jimale
We escaped a civil war, but guns still took our son’s life

Family of Somali teenager gunned down in Camden Town tell of their anger at the authorities

“WE ran from Somalia when our son was one year old because of war, gunshots, to come somewhere safe. And he was shot, here. What is the difference between here and Somalia?”
Abdirahman Hassan Jimale, the father of Sharma’arke Hassan, 17, who died last Wednesday four days after he was shot in the head in Camden Town, is full of anger and bewilderment as well as grief.
The sitting room of his family’s Agar Grove flat is covered with newspaper cuttings reporting Sharma’arke’s murder – headlines produced within hours of his death branded him a “gangster” and a “drug dealer”, and make play of the fact that he held a cannabis conviction and an Asbo.
Holding one of the newspapers, Abdirahman said: “Even if he was as bad as these papers say, why did the police tell them this? This was private between the police and the family. He was not a ‘gangster’– would a gangster be home every night at 7pm? Would a gangster be so quiet, so good to children?
“The police didn’t even contact us since he died. Why haven’t they spoken to the family, not one word, about what has happened?
“Since he died, no one has spoken to us – not the police, not the council, not our MP. This should be something the government is involved in.”
Sharma’arke was nine when he came to the UK. His family carried him as an infant out of Somalia at the outset of the civil war in 1992 and took refuge in Ethiopia. There Abdirahman, an economist who had worked for the Somali Inland Revenue, tutored Sharma’arke in maths so that he was far ahead of his classmates when he joined Torriano Junior School in 2001.
He went on, his family said, to gain four GCSEs at Acland Burghley secondary school and was planning to re-take more GCSEs at the school’s sixth form.
“He wanted to go to America or Thailand to finish his education,” said Abdirahman. “We were planning to take him to Thailand to study business and administration. He was a good, well-educated student.”
Abdirahman has spent this week organising Sharma’arke’s funeral, which will take place at Edmonton Mosque on Friday.
The family were surrounded by dozens of Sharma’arke’s friends during a vigil at the Royal Free Hospital last week. A bullet was lodged in Sharma’arke’s brain and doctors, who the family acknowledge could have done nothing more, declared him dead after tests on Wednesday.
Police have only confirmed the barest details of how he came to be shot in Gilbey’s Yard on Saturday, May 24.
“He was killed. He was a victim,” said Sharma’arke’s mother, Fatima Ilmi. “He might have done bad things in the past but he was not a gangster. He was normal, his friends came in and out, they were teenagers. He wasn’t in a gang.”
She described how the family had heard of another shooting of a Somali boy in Archway, the day before Sharma’arke was fatally shot: “Somebody called and said ‘somebody has been shot in this area – don’t let your sons out’. But Sharma’arke was already out. His dad went to look for him but then he texted to say he was alright. Then we got a phone call to say he was in the hospital.
“If the country is not your country, you can’t stand up for your rights,” said Abdirahman. “We came all the way from Somalia, running from guns, and our son is shot. We thought it was our country and we’d be safe. Now we know we are not.” He believes the media and the police have treated his family differently purely because they are refugees. “If we were white or from a larger community, this would not happen,” said Abdirahman.
A Met spokeswoman said: “Family liaison officers were with the family throughout the time Sharma’arke was critically ill. Following his death there has been a minimum of daily contact with a close member of the family. Following concerns raised we are meeting with the family to ensure that updates are being passed on to the rest of the family.”
She said information about Sharma’arke’s past had not been revealed by police.
“We would not discuss the previous convictions of a victim,” she added.
The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that while the CPS would never divulge an individual’s criminal record, they would confirm the outcome of hearings. A journalist had contacted the CPS with precise details of Sharma’arke’s court dates, said an official.

Sharmarke Hersi

IN last week’s New Journal front-page article (‘Teenager killed in shooting’), we incorrectly reported that the 17-year-old who died of gunshot wounds in the Royal Free Hospital last week was Sharmarke Hersi.
The victim was in fact Sharma’arke Hassan.
Sharmarke Hersi, 21, is a respected youth worker in Camden who is alive and well. The New Journal wishes to make clear that he had no connection with the death of Sharma’arke Hassan. We are sorry for any distress which our mistake may have caused Mr Hersi and his family, and those who know him.
In the same article we reported that a second youth, shot in Archway, was a former pupil of Acland Burghley school. While Mr Hassan was a former pupil, the second youth was not.
The New Journal apologises for both errors.

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