The family of a Somali-Canadian lawyer who was found dead in his Hargeisa home in mid-July believe that he was killed as part of a land dispute and did not commit suicide as the local authorities have told them.
Gamal Ahmed Jimale, who also went by Gamal Gulaid, was a Canada-educated lawyer who practiced in Massachusetts, USA.
n July 16, Gamal was found dead in the bedroom of his Hargeisa home by his maid. There was reportedly a handgun found by his side when the authorities came to investigate, and Gamal’s death was ruled a suicide by the Somaliland Police.
However, members of Gamal’s family, including his cousin Omar Kahin, believe that foul play was involved and that he was killed as part of an ongoing land dispute.
Kahin, who works as an accountant in Toronto, told HOL that Gamal’s problems began when he travelled back to Hargeisa over a decade ago to reclaim a large plot of land that belonged to his father, Ahmed Mohamed Gulaid (Ahmed Jimale), a founding member of the Somali National Movement.
Gamal was reportedly planning to build a library on the family land.
When Gamal found that his father’s land in Hargeisa was illegally sold by corrupt officials, which often occurs during land disputes in Somalia, he decided to put his legal background to use and go after the culprits through Somaliland’s court system.
Kahin said that through influence and bribery, Gamal’s enemies manipulated the court system so that they could hold on to the coveted property.
“Gamal was subject to years of humiliating hardship as the case was bungled in the justice system’s bureaucratic maze and dragged through kangaroo courts which are greased by corruption and bribery.”
While Gamal’s civil case snaked through Somaliland’s judicial system, Kahin said that an additional fictitious charge of assault was placed on him.
The case stemmed from a security guard employed by Gamal to guard the property at the onset of the land dispute. The security guard got into a fight with a trespasser, who Gamal believes was sent by the men trying to steal his land.
Kahin said the security guard was formally charged and sentenced years before Gamal’s latest assault charge. He believes the indictment was meant to break his spirit and dissuade him from pursuing his property case.
Gamal ultimately lost the civil suit, and his father’s land was awarded to the defendants.
Despite his legal problems, Gamal’s cousin does not believe that he killed himself.
“Everyone who met Gamal knew he loved himself and life too much. He was a successful man who didn’t have any financial problems. He had a loving family and a tight-knit circle of friends. He was an unlikely candidate for suicide.”
Kahin added that he last spoke with Gamal in early July to wish him a happy Eid. He said they caught up for close to an hour and that Gamal seemed upbeat and in good mental health.
Kahin and other members of Gamal’s family believe that their relative was murdered and that the Somaliland authorities are covering it up. They are calling for an investigation into his death by the Canadian government.
“We believe the (Somaliland) government is complicit in his sudden death, and we want an independent autopsy and investigation to be done by Canadian authorities as well as human rights organizations and civil society groups to condemn the killing of a Canadian lawyer.