British police apologize to family of Somali man wrongly convicted, 70 years later

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Mahmood Mattan spoke very little English and could not read or write in the language

LONDON - Police in Wales have apologized to the family of a British-Somali man who was wrongly convicted of murder before being executed in prison, in a horrifying incident that took place 70 years ago according to available records.

Mr. Mahmood Mattan, a British Somali and former seaman was hanged in 1952 after he was convicted of killing shopkeeper Lily Volpert in her store in Cardiff, the BBC reports.

Records in Britain show that his conviction was the first criminal case review referral which was quashed by the Appeals Court in 1998. Police in South Wales admitted that the conviction was "flawed" while issuing an apology to the family.

"This is a case very much of its time - racism, bias, and prejudice would have been prevalent throughout society, including the criminal justice system," said its chief constable, Jeremy Vaughan.

"There is no doubt that Mahmood Mattan was the victim of a miscarriage of justice as a result of a flawed prosecution, of which policing was clearly a part.

"It is right and proper that an apology is made on behalf of policing for what went so badly wrong in this case 70 years ago and for the terrible suffering of Mr. Mattan's family and all those affected by this tragedy for many years."

For over 46 years, Mattan's wife Laura and their three done David, Omar, and Mervyn, who was also known as Eddie, campaigned after his execution for his name to be cleared.

They have all since died and while the family welcomed an apology, one of his six grandchildren has called it "insincere."

"It's far too late for the people directly affected as they are no longer with us and still, we are yet to hear the words I am/we are sorry," said granddaughter Tanya Mattan

After the appeal, the family did receive compensation from Home Affairs office in 2001 but since then, the police have never issued an apology. However, the apology was tendered this week after many of the protagonists had died in different times and circumstances.

The well-known 41-year-old businesswoman had her throat cut while her mother, sister, and niece were in the next room of the property in Cardiff's old Tiger Bay area, BBC noted.

The feeling of prejudice towards Mr. Mattan, who spoke very little English, was heightened during his three-day trial at the Glamorgan Assizes in Swansea when his own defense barrister called him a "semi-civilized savage".

Within six months of the murder, the 28-year-old was executed by infamous hangman Albert Pierrepoint on the gallows at Cardiff prison on 3 September 1952.

GAROWE ONLINE

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