The Malta Independent 22 August 2019, Thursday

Somalia shooting: ‘I closed his eyes, covered him’ – friend of slain Maltese port manager

Neil Camilleri Tuesday, 12 February 2019, 09:24 Last update: about 7 months ago

A friend of murdered Maltese national Paul Anthony Formosa who was with him in his last minutes has told The Malta Independent that she “protected” Paul’s body until it reached the mortuary.

The father of two, 52, was shot and killed by Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group last week while working for a Dubai government-owned port operator in the country’s semi-autonomous Puntland region.

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The friend reached out to this newspaper to send a message to Paul’s daughter, Sarah, after reading an interview she gave to The Malta Independent on Sunday.

The woman was by Paul’s side shortly after he was shot and stayed with him even after he breathed his last breath.

“I closed his eyes when he passed away and closed his wounds as best as I could. I covered him in white sheets so that Somalis would not take pictures of him. I protected him till his body reached the cold chamber.”

The friend sent us pictures of the rest of the team sat down around a dinner table, with Paul in the middle, smiling. “Every Friday he would cook new dishes for us. We shared laughter. He cared so much about us.”

Describing her friendship with the murdered Maltese man, she said she used to have lunch and dinner with him regularly.

She wanted Sarah to know that her father was a “hero” to his team. “All of us have such good memories of him. For sure he loved his family because we knew you through him. He was always proud of his family. He will be missed by many of us. You cannot imagine how good he was to us. He deserves to be known in a good way.”

The pictures are not being published at her request. She says she is not afraid to speak but does not want to compromise the safety of her colleagues. “The Islamists are everywhere nowadays so we hide our identity.”

She has since fled from the lawless country and does not yet know whether she will be returning to her job. “I don’t even know if I will be going back to my job. I will wait until things calm down,” she says.

She also pointed out that Formosa was in Somalia legally, contrary to what was reported in some sections of the international media. She sent a link to an online report detailing the 2017 handover of the port of Bosasso to the Dubai-based P&O Ports, for which Formosa worked. The report includes pictures showing Formosa attending the official handover ceremony.

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