Abdirizak Kasim Iman, a camera operator with the privately owned SBS TV, was shot dead in Mogadishu by a police officer on July 26, 2018, according to his brother, Hassan Omar Mohammed, and Mohammed Shiil, the coordinator of the Somalia Mechanism for the Safety of Journalists, a group that monitors attacks on the press.
Witnesses said that at the time of the attack, the journalist was trying to pass a security checkpoint near Mogadishu’s Peace Garden, a public park, while riding a bajaj, a three-wheeled taxi, his brother and Mohammed Shiil told CPJ. The policeman told the bajaj driver that he could not go past the security checkpoint and ordered him to reverse, they said.
Abdirizak and the bajaj driver tried to convince the officer to let them beyond the security checkpoint, and during the interaction the officer shot Abdirizak twice in the head, according to Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, secretary general of the government-recognized National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and Mohamed Shiil. Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu told CPJ that the driver escaped unharmed and was questioned by police on July 26.
By August 2018, CPJ had been unable to identify or contact the driver of the bajaj.
There were conflicting accounts of whether the journalist was on his way to an assignment or headed home. On August 8, 2018 Suleiman Yusuf, chief of programming at SBS TV, told CPJ that the station called Abdirizak, who had just left class at the Somali Institute of Management and Administration Development University, where he was also a student, and asked him to take footage in Mogadishu’s Waberi district for a security story the station was covering. Hassan Omar Mohammed, the journalist’s brother, told CPJ that Abdirizak was killed while on his way home. All the people with whom CPJ spoke said that Abdirizak, 21, had his camera with him at the time of the attack.
Somalia’s police commissioner Bashir Abdi Mohamed told CPJ in July 2018 that the Criminal Investigations Department was investigating the killing. Ismail Sheikh Khalifa, chairman of the press rights group Human Rights Journalists, told CPJ on August 8 that no arrests had been made in connection to the journalist’s murder.
In November 2018, a military court tried Police Captain Abdullahi Nur Ahmed in absentia and found him guilty of murdering Abdirizak, sentencing him to five years in prison and a fine of 100 camels, according to a sentencing document from the court seen by CPJ and a July 2019 statement from the National Union of Somali Journalists, renamed the Federation of Somali Journalists as of July 2019.
Nur Ahmed’s trial and conviction were not made public until July 2019, which authorities claimed was part of a plan to ensure he did not evade capture, Moalimuu told CPJ. As of July 15, 2019, Nur Ahmed had yet to be apprehended to serve his sentence, according to Moalimuu.