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May 24, 2012 / Man in the Mirror

Gulf News: ‘Honour killing’ witnessed by sister’

  • By Helen Carter
  • Published: 00:00 May 23, 2012

London: The sister of a teenager who was murdered by her parents when she refused to agree to an arranged marriage saw the killing, a court was told on Monday.

Alesha Ahmad told police she watched her parents “acting together” during the murder of her older sister Shafilea Ahmad, 17, in September 2003, Chester crown court heard.

Their parents, Iftikhar Ahmad, 52, a taxi driver, and his wife Farzana, 49, deny murdering Shafilea, whose badly decomposed remains were found near a Cumbrian river in February 2004.

Alesha, now 23, told police what happened in August 2010, when she was arrested for her part in a robbery at the family home in Warrington, Cheshire, the court heard. Prosecution barrister Andrew Edis QC described the information as the final piece of the jigsaw; until then there had been no direct evidence linking the parents to the murder.

Divided loyalties

He said it was an extraordinary thing to accuse your parents of murder, to say “you were there and watched your parents murder your sister”. He said for the past “almost nine years, Alesha Ahmad had lived under the most extraordinary of circumstances”, as had the whole family. There are three younger siblings. Alesha had told friends about the killing between September and December 2003, but she soon retracted her comments and returned to the family home where she was brought back into “silence and denial”. It must have been a great strain because of her divided loyalties, Edis said.

The court heard that during a trip to Pakistan in February 2003, Shafilea had been introduced to a cousin whom her parents wanted her to marry. She drank bleach at her grandparents’ house in Pakistan, which her mother had claimed was a mistake during a power cut.

Edis said there was no way anyone would pick up a bottle in the pitch black of a bathroom and drink from it. As soon as she drank it, she screamed. It was, he said, a self-destructive act or one of serious self-harm. He also questioned why the trip to Pakistan did not involve marriage if her father only bought a one-way ticket for his daughter.

Shafilea was taken to Warrington hospital for emergency treatment when she returned home in May 2003.

A patient who asked her why she had drunk bleach was told: “You don’t know what they did to me there.”

Edis said Shafilea told the patient her parents had accepted an offer of marriage from her cousin and “that is why she drank the bleach”. Edis said: “She didn’t even like the guy, she wanted to get out of there but they had taken away her passport.”

On Monday, poems written by Shafilea were read to the jurors. One was called Happy Families and the other I Feel Trapped.

— Guardian News & Media Ltd

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