Ahmed Diriye: a victim of the black economy who died alone and unknown

Ahmed Diriye was a loved family man who came to Malta in 2004, but in the days before his death he was relegated to Mr X in a hospital ward

A photo of Ahmed Diriye, sent in to MaltaToday by his family
A photo of Ahmed Diriye, sent in to MaltaToday by his family

Additional reporting by Kurt Sansone and Luke Vella

Ahmed Diriye died an unknown man – Mr X – brought in to Mater Dei Hospital where he succumbed to injuries incurred in a fall while carrying out construction work. Like many refugees in Malta, the Somali national worked odd jobs after being picked up from areas like the Marsa roundabout.

Close friends who spoke to MaltaToday said Diriye was “a good guy”, somewhat quiet and reserved, usually keeping to himself. So when he did not return home last week, nobody knew that Ahmed had been relegated to Mr X, an unidentified victim of a construction site accident.

Diriye came to Malta in 2004 where he has been residing here ever since. Described by friends as a very hard-working man, he provided for his wife and children who were living in Somalia.

He was in daily contact with his family, but all contact came to an abrupt halt four days before Christmas – something which was out of character for Diriye.

His brother-in-law, Ceri Davies, who lives in Turkey, described to MaltaToday his and Diriye’s friends’ attempts at dealing with the Maltese police to gain some assistance on Diriye’s whereabouts.

“On Christmas morning, believing that Ahmed lived in Valetta, I contacted Valetta police where I spoke to a police constable who directed me to send him an email documenting any information I had regarding Ahmed and his possible whereabouts,” Davies said.

Davies was only told that Diriye actually lived in Birzebbugia. So he immediately called the General Police Headquarters and established contact with a police officer in the locality. “This time I received a very different reception,” Davies said.

He gave the policeman a run-down of the situation, but the officer offered little sympathy. Davies explained that his family was deeply concerned for his wellbeing, but the policeman merely told him to visit his own local police station in Turkey, so that an official gets in touch with the Birżebbuġa police station.

“I tried to protest, I was worried that the issue was very time-sensitive, but the officer was completely uninterested in taking any information regarding Ahmed from me,” Davies said.

He promptly contacted the original police constable from the Valletta station, and asked him to pass on the information he had sent by email to the Birzebbugia station.

At the same time, Diriye’s flatmate and group of friends also visited the local police station in Birżebbuġa. But according to Davies, they were told by the officer on duty that they were not interested in opening a missing person’s case. “When I contacted the Birzebbugia police via phone, and when Ahmed’s friends went to file a missing person’s report at the police station, Ahmed’s phone – which we believe he has on his person – had been receiving calls. Only at roughly 6pm in the evening did his phone stop receiving calls.”

To try and gain some closure, Diriye’s flatmate and friend tried visiting Mater Dei Hospital at 9pm on Christmas Day. They visited the A&E department, as well as the main reception desk. When they asked if anyone of African descent had been brought in dead or injured, they were told no.

On Boxing Day, the in-law contacted the constable again to check for updates. He confirmed that a missing person’s report had in fact been filed, and advised Diriye’s friends to check the police station for further updates.

They made their way to the police station at mid-morning, and were told that no one there could provide them with any information. Their only option was to return at 6:30pm, when a case worker would be present.

When they returned later, police officers warned that they had no information on Diriye’s whereabouts. The only piece of information available was that Diriye’s phone had last transmitted a signal from an area next to the coast, but police weren’t willing to provide specifics on the location. “Police never visited Ahmed’s apartment, they did not bother to inquire who Ahmed was last seen with, nor where he last worked. They have offered no support whatsover in physically looking for Ahmed,” Davies said.

“Ahmed’s wife and siblings are at their wits’ end. Ahmed is a much loved member of the family who is a particular favourite of their mother, who is current experiencing extreme health problems and is in and out of consciousness. They are stoically resigned discovering the worst about Ahmed, but they feel particularly bitter about the clear indifference of the police services in Birżebuġa.”

Mr X in SA2

Days later, MaltaToday confirmed that Diriye had actually died at Mater Dei Hospital a few deys before police issued a public call for information.

He was seriously injured last week, having fell from more than a storey-height at his place of work.

Police had in fact circulated a press release last week saying that an accident took place at the Industrial Estate in Marsa while the man was carrying out work in a factory. Police reported that he was suffering serious injuries, but they never issued an update on the accident.

Indeed, Diriye had been working at the Marsa Industrial Estate. His most recent known job in Malta was as a construction worker for a local company. He had sent videos to his friends of him installing solar panelso n the roof of a building in the area. 

Meanwhile, Diriye remained unidentified to police and was referred to as Mr X in Surgical Ward 2, where he was receiving treatment.

Hospital sources told MaltaToday Diriye died a couple of days ago in the same ward. It was only when Diriye’s photo first appeared on news portals and social media that nurses realised that Mr X was Ahmed Diriye.

After connecting the dots, police were able to confirm his identity, and that Diriye died after succumbing to his injuries at Mater Dei Hospital.

Meanwhile, no one knows why Diriye’s identity had not been established after the accident, which was even flagged in a police media release.

Timeline of Diriye’s tragic end

21 December

Ahmed Diriye contacts relatives back home in Somalia for the last time.

22 December

Police issue a press statement saying that a man whose identity is unknown was seriously injured after falling one-and-a-half storeys at a factory in the Marsa industrial estate where he was working. The incident happened at noon and the man was taken to hospital by ambulance. Duty Magistrate Leonard Caruana is holding an inquiry.

24 December

Diriye’s brother-in-law, who lives in Turkey, is informed by relatives that Diriye has not been in contact with them for three days. This is completely out of character because Diriye used to speak to his wife and siblings on a daily basis. The brother-in-law contacts the police in Malta.

25 December

A formal missing person’s report is filed with the Birżebbuġa police station by Diriye’s flatmate and friends.

26 December

Enquiring about any developments, Diriye’s friends are informed by the police that Diriye's phone had transmitted a signal from an area next to the coast. According to Diriye’s brother-in-law, police did not provide specific information as to exactly where the signal was transmitted from.

27 December

At around 3:14pm, police issue a missing person’s notice for Ahmed Diriye asking anyone with information on his whereabouts to come forward. His photo is also disseminated.

Nurses who had treated the Somali man injured in the 22 December accident recognise the photo and get in touch with the police and MaltaToday, informing them that the man had died a couple of days earlier in hospital. Nurses did not know the identity of the patient and referred to him as Mr X.

At around 8pm, police issue a statement confirming that Ahmed Diriye was the person involved in the 22 December accident and had died at Mater Dei Hospital.