The body of Lassana Cisse, the 42-year-old father of three who was gunned down in April 2019, has still not been sent back to the Ivory Coast for him to receive a proper burial.
Cisse was killed after being shot by two off-duty soldiers while walking home on a Ħal Far road after watching a football match with some friends.
The Maltese government had offered to pay the costs associated with repatriating Cisse’s body so that he could receive a proper burial in his home country, the Ivory Coast.
Two-and-a-half years later, however, his body remains at the Mater Dei morgue and it is unclear when the repatriation will take place or what, if anything, is standing in the way of this happening.
Cisse’s body was released for burial by the courts in January 2020 and was set to make the long journey back home to Koumassi, in the Ivory Coast’s south Abidjan region.
That year, the government had told Lovin Malta that it was committed to paying for Cisse’s body to be returned home, with Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo saying that the government would also pay for a person to accompany the body.
Plans for the repatriation hit a snag with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges that brought with it.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry told Lovin Malta this week that the matter no longer fell within its remit while the Home Affairs Ministry has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Sources who spoke with Lovin Malta suggested that the problem lay mainly in restrictions on travel between Malta and the Ivory Coast, which remains on Malta’s Dark Red list. As such, travel to and from the country is prohibited.
It isn’t clear whether an exemption has been requested to allow those accompanying the body to return to Malta, or indeed if the body can be sent without an accompanying individual.
A request for comment has also been sent to the Health Ministry.
Separate sources suggested that the reason the repatriation had not taken place was that Malta was still awaiting a request from Cisse’s family or the embassy in order to set the process in motion.
Published/Updated October 31, 2021 at 23:59 pm