“Racist” murder case could be reopened after 23 years

Changes in the law have raised new hopes for the case

THE “racist” murder of a Somali student in Scotland almost a quarter of a century ago is set to be reopened after pressure from justice campaigners.

Axmed Abuukar Sheekh was stabbed to death outside an Edinburgh pub in 1989 after he and a relative were racially abused by football casuals.

Three men were arrested but only two stood trial over the killing of the 28-year-old. All charges were dropped against one of the accused while the other was convicted of lesser charges.

But it is now hoped that changes to the double jeopardy law allowing a person to stand trial twice for the same crime could bring justice to Mr Sheekh’s family.

Joan Weir, of the Axmed Sheekh Commemorative Group, contacted her local MSP after reading news of the Stephen Lawrence retrial and murder convictions in London.

She said it was her hope that Mr Sheekh’s case would be reopened.

She said: “My aim is that the case be considered by the Lord Advocate. It was 23 years ago, at that time there was no such thing as a ‘racist’ murder so we had to argue for that.

“But now there are two things to consider, the double jeopardy law and advances in DNA.”

She added: “There was clear racist evidence. We were very disappointed at the time about the quality of the prosecution while the defendants had a brilliant QC.

“It is not the family in Somalia who are launching a campaign but I am just trying to work out my role in this.

“I believe there remains a responsibility of those of us, black and white, in Scotland who were involved at the time to try to ensure this case is included in any new review.”

Edinburgh Southern MSP Jim Eadie has now written to the Crown Office asking them to look into the matter.

He said: “On the face of it, there are parallels with the Stephen Lawrence trial and given the seriousness and significance of the case, I have written to the Solicitor-General asking her to look at whether it could be included in the review being conducted into which cases may be prosecuted under the new act.

“That is the very least we owe to Mr Sheekh and his family.”

Mr Sheekh was with his cousin, Abdirizak Yusuf when they were attacked. Mr Sheekh told his cousin to flee for his life before he dragged himself to a phone box, where he collapsed. The student died later in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

One of the accused at the subsequent trial was convicted of possessing a knife and assault but was cleared of murder.

The 28-year-old was stabbed to death in 1989 in the Cowgate, Edinburgh after he and his cousin were racially assaulted by a crowd of white youths .

His cousin Abdirazak Yusef managed to escape but Mr Sheekh later died at the citys’ Royal Infirmary hospital.

A Crown Office spokesman said: “The Lord Advocate has asked Solicitor General to review cases that may be able to prosecuted anew under the new Double Jeopardy Act. It is too early to speculate on how any particular case will be dealt with as a result. We can confirm that we have received a letter today from Jim Eadie MSP relating to the death of Axmed Abuukar Sheekh in January 1989 and will respond to him in due course.”

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