UK & World News

  • 30 May 2014, 9:33

Pakistan Stoning: Widower 'Killed First Wife'

The husband of a pregnant Pakistani woman who was stoned to death by her family has reportedly admitted to strangling his first wife.

Mohammad Iqbal, 45, told news agency AFP he murdered his first wife so he could marry 25-year-old Farzana Iqbal, who was bludgeoned to death outside a courthouse for her choice of husband.

"I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love," he said.

Iqbal said he had been spared prison after his son forgave him for the killing - under the same controversial "blood money" laws that could see Farzana's killers ultimately go unpunished.

According to AFP, Mr Iqbal then switched off his phone and has not responded to subsequent calls. 

However a senior police officer investigating Farzana Iqbal's killing has verified his claims.

"Iqbal was a notorious character and he had murdered his first wife six years ago," Zulfiqar Hameed said.

"He was arrested and later released after a compromise with his family."

He said a report detailing Mr Iqbal's past would be handed to the government.

Mr Iqbal has made several public appeals for justice since his three months pregnant second wife's murder on Tuesday.

He alleges that several members of her family hit her in the head with bricks outside Lahore High Court while police stood by and watched.

"I begged them to help us but they said, 'this is not our duty',"  he told Reuters. "I took off my shirt (to be humble) and begged them to save her."

Her family was reportedly angered by her decision to marry Mr Iqbal rather than a cousin who was selected for her.

According to police her father, brother and former fiance all took part in the attack.

The couple were due to testify in court that their marriage was genuine after her family alleged she had been abducted.

The brazen nature of the killing, which took place on one of the busiest roads of Pakistan's second biggest city has shocked the country.

There are fears that the alleged killers could walk free due to a provision in Pakistani law which allows perpetrators to be let off if they are forgiven by the victim's relatives or if the relatives accept so-called "blood money" over the crime.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has described the killing as "totally unacceptable" and demanded to know why nearby police did not intervene.

However Lahore police chief Shafiq Ahmad has denied that police witnessed the killing.

He said: "By the time police reached the scene, the lady had been murdered."

He added that the victim's father was arrested after the incident.

The remaining suspects have not been found.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan 869 women died in so-called honour killings last year alone.

British Foreign Secretary William has called on Pakistan to take immediate action to prevent further killings.

He said: "I am shocked and appalled by the death of Farzana Parveen - both for the appalling manner of her death, and the unspeakable cruelty and injustice of murdering a woman for exercising her basic right to choose who to love and marry.

"There is absolutely no honour in honour killings and I urge the government of Pakistan to do all in its power to eradicate this barbaric practice."

 

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