Nine months after the brutal murder of Lassana Cisse Souleymane, his body has been released and will be flown home in the Ivory Coast, where he will be laid to rest at last.

The police said the “death certificate for the burial” had been signed, allowing the body to be repatriated “in the coming weeks”.

The 42-year-old was killed on April 6 in a drive-by shooting in Ħal Far. Two soldiers, Francesco Fenech, 21, and Lorin Scicluna, 22, have been accused of the racially-motivated murder as well as the attempted murder of another two men and a hit-and-run incident. All four victims are black.

Despite the court giving the go-ahead for the release of the father-of-two’s body in July, his relatives in the Ivory Coast and friends in Malta remained baffled as to why the corpse was being kept at the mortuary for such a long time.

Mr Cisse’s friend and fellow, Ivorian Ousmane Dicko, said he had been told by the police that they were waiting for a signature from an inspector. Mr Dicko, who has been updating the family about the case, was only informed about the body’s release by Times of Malta on Wednesday.

“His mother, for whom Lassana was an only child, keeps asking me when she will see his body,” Mr Dicko said.

“It reached a point where I couldn’t answer the phone as I didn’t know what to tell them anymore,” he added, expressing relief that they would now get some closure.

When contacted about the delay, a police spokesman confirmed there were no other pending examinations on the body and it was therefore not part of the investigation anymore.

“Following the release by the presiding magistrate, a process kicked off to take the body to the Ivory Coast for burial and, until this was finalised, the body was kept at the mortuary,” he said.

“The death certificate for the burial of the corpse has been signed by the police and the body will be flown to the Ivory Coast in the coming weeks,” the spokesman added. 

After Mr Cisse’s murder, a member of the Ivorian community said they had been struggling to collect enough money to fly the body home. The statement prompted a decision by Archbishop Charles Scicluna for half of the money raised in a charity concert to be donated to the murdered migrant’s family.

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