x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Mediterranean shift in hunt for student's killer

The search for the killer of a Qatari student who died during an attack in Hastings, has switched to the Mediterranean.

An undated photo of Mohammed al Majed, who died in Hastings, England, after what is believed to have been a racially motivated attack.
An undated photo of Mohammed al Majed, who died in Hastings, England, after what is believed to have been a racially motivated attack.

LONDON // The search for the killer of a Qatari student who died during a racially motivated attack in an English seaside resort, has switched to the Mediterranean. Mohammed al Majed, a 16-year-old from Doha, died on Aug 22 when he and a group of fellow language students from the Gulf and Saudi Arabia were attacked late at night in Hastings on the Sussex coast. A Sussex police spokesman said yesterday that detectives had made a "significant breakthrough" in the investigation after studying hundreds of hours of CCTV evidence from the brawl, which started when a group of local youths outside a kebab house began shouting racist slogans at Mohammed and his friends as they passed. "The CCTV evidence and many detailed witness statements have pointed to one particular man whom the investigation team are now anxious to trace," the spokesman said. Det Chief Insp Trevor Bowles, who is leading the inquiry, added: "We have identified a young man who was at the scene of the attack on Mohammed. I am, for legal reasons, unable to name this individual. "We know his identity, that he is 21 years old and from South London. We also know that he is currently in the Mediterranean." Sussex officers have already flown to the unnamed Mediterranean country. "We are liaising closely with the Serious and Organised Crime Agency and with a number of other authorities, both in the UK and elsewhere, in order to trace and arrest him on suspicion of murder," Det Bowles said. Two young men have already appeared in court in connection with the violence that led to injuries to two of Mohammed's friends, but neither has been charged with offences directly linked to the teenager's death. Mohammed, who was in the final week of a six-week visit to Britain, died from head injuries, apparently caused when he slipped on a kerb as he tried to escape the attack. His family told the BBC recently that they should have been warned about violence in Hastings, where there have been about 100 attacks on visiting foreign students in the past three years, before sending their son to the town. Abdullah al Majed, Mohammed's father, said the whole family was still struggling to come to terms with their loss. "The impact has been like a volcano - an earthquake," he said. "I might still be alive, but my life does not mean anything any more." Abtasam, Mohammed's mother, added: "I can't think of anything worse than a mother losing her own son. He was a unique boy who was loved by everyone who knew him. He never made problems at home or at school. He was a very special boy." Mohammed died in a specialist head injury unit in a London hospital two days after the attack. His body was flown home and is now buried on the outskirts of Doha. More than 30,000 foreign students a year visit the numerous EFL colleges that have sprung up in Hastings over the past 20 years. Any boycott of the town, particularly by Arab students, would be devastating to the local economy and has prompted even more rigid policing of a town centre known for its drunken violence, particularly late at night. dsapsted@thenational.ae