Mother of ‘bullied‘ Somali girl, 12, who drowned in river accuses police of racism after they ‘failed to properly investigate her death‘ – sparking probe by force watchdog
The heartbroken family of Shukri Yahya Abdi, 12 who died after drowning in the River Irwell, Bury, she was being bullied at Broad Oak Sports College before her death
The mother of a 12-year-old Somali refugee found drowned in a river claimed today that police racism could deny them the truth about her death.
Zam Zam Ture says that detectives in Greater Manchester treated her ‘harshly‘ and wrote off Shukri Abdi‘s death as a ‘tragic accident‘ without a proper investigation.
Shukri, who was born in Somalia before moving to the UK, drowned in the River Irwell in Bury, Greater Manchester, on June 27 this year – but relatives want to know if she was pushed.
Her family say they were treated differently because of their race, background and refugee status saying the police response was laced with institutional racism – and believe her death was no evidence.
Mrs Ture told the that officers were ‘not sympathetic‘ and were ‘trying to convince [her] that her daughter had been swimming‘.
She said her daughter, who she claims was bullied at school, could not swim and was wearing full Islamic dress on the day she died.
Her solicitor Attiq Malik said ‘within hours‘ of the 12-year-old‘s death Greater Manchester Police published a press release saying her death was not suspicious.
Mr Malik said that this meant that the case cannot have been fully investigated.
He said: ‘The family‘s firm position is they have only been treated in that way because of their race, and had it been a different racial background more sensitivity would have been given, more investigation would have been done‘.
On Thursday, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced it had begun an investigation following a complaint about police actions following her death.
An IOPC spokeswoman said: ‘In July the force referred a complaint they had received about their actions; it alleged that officers failed to conduct an effective investigation and prematurely concluded that the death of Shukri Abdi was not suspicious.
‘We carefully assessed this complaint and made the decision that it required an independent investigation.
‘Part of the complaint investigation will look at whether officers treated Shukri Abdi‘s family less favourably because of their ethnic background.‘
Shukri, who came to the UK from Somalia, was described by relatives as a ‘sweet, innocent child‘.
She was reported missing by her mother just after 7.30pm on June 27 and a short time later police received a separate report that a girl had gone into the River Irwell and had not resurfaced.
Underwater search teams later recovered her body from the river.
A separate investigation into her death by Greater Manchester Police is continuing, the IOPC said.
IOPC regional director Amanda Rowe said: ‘We have met with Shukri Abdi‘s family to offer our condolences and discuss this investigation, and we will provide them with regular updates as our work progresses.
‘The death of a child is so very difficult to comprehend, and I know this is felt across the local community and beyond.
‘I am aware that the circumstances of Shukri‘s death is a concern to many, not least because there are many unanswered questions about how she came to be in the River Irwell that day.
‘That is a matter for Greater Manchester Police and the coroner.‘
Mustaf Omar Mohamed, Shukri‘s cousin, told Muslim news website while the police have repeatedly told the media it was a tragic accident, they do not believe her death was an accident.
‘We believe there is more to this story and we don‘t believe we are getting the answers and support we deserve from the police and the school,‘ Mr Mohamed said.
‘We know that Shukri was being bullied and so do the school and the police. It was name-calling and physical.
‘I don‘t know why she was being bullied but she was a timid, scared, vulnerable girl so she was an easy target. Her mum went to the school to report it and was even in the process of taking her out of the school,‘ he added.