Friday 23 March 2018

Pakistan court postpones hearing over murder of British woman

Pakistani police escort the father and ex-husband of Briton Samia Shahid, who is believed to have been murdered in an 'honour killing' (AP)
Pakistani police escort the father and ex-husband of Briton Samia Shahid, who is believed to have been murdered in an 'honour killing' (AP)

A court hearing in the case of two men accused of murdering a British woman while on a family visit to Pakistan has been postponed, a defence lawyer said.

Samia Shahid's father, Muhammad Shahid, and her ex-husband, Choudhry Muhammad Shakeel, were due to appear in court in the city of Jhelum on Thursday but the judge postponed the hearing until Saturday, said lawyer Mohammad Arif.

The death of 28-year-old Ms Shahid is suspected to be the latest reported incident of so-called "honour killings" in Pakistan, where nearly 1,000 women are murdered every year for violating conservative norms on love, marriage and public behaviour.

Police have said the killing was a "premeditated, cold-blooded murder" and a government-ordered police inquiry has recommended that her ex-husband and her father be tried on charges of rape and murder.

Ms Shahid, from Bradford, West Yorkshire, was buried in eastern Pakistan in July after her family declared she had died of a heart attack.

But an inquiry was ordered by the Pakistan government after her second husband, Syed Mukhtar Kazam, publicly accused her family of killing her because they opposed her decision to divorce her first husband in 2014 and marry him.

The investigation concluded that she was strangled to death, and that her father had stood guard while her ex-husband raped her. After that, they killed her together, the police say.

The investigation has found that a forensic and DNA test was a perfect match, confirming the rape.

Defence lawyer Mr Arif denied the accusations against his clients. Both suspects were arrested in August but have not yet been formally charged.

Ms Shahid married her first husband in February 2012 but stayed only briefly in Pakistan before returning to England where she obtained a divorce two years later.

After that, she married her second husband and moved with him to Dubai. Ms Shahid's family never accepted her second marriage.

Ms Shahid's mother and younger sister, both also British nationals, are wanted by Pakistani police on allegations of abetting her murder. The inquiry found they got her to agree to a week-long visit to Pakistan earlier this summer, claiming her father was gravely ill.

The two women left Pakistan shortly before the arrests and Pakistani police are now seeking their extradition from the UK.


Press Association

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