UK & World News
Parents Jailed For Life For Shafilea Murder
The parents of schoolgirl Shafilea Ahmed have been jailed for life for the murder of their daughter in an apparent "honour killing".
Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, and his wife Farzana, 49, suffocated Shafilea, 17, with a plastic bag in 2003.
Shafilea's sister Alesha told the jury at Chester Crown Court her parents pushed Shafilea onto the settee in their house and she heard her mother say "just finish it here" as they forced a plastic bag into the teenager's mouth and killed her in front of their other children.
The couple must serve a minimum of 25 years each.
The seven men and five women of the jury returned two unanimous verdicts after deliberating for around 11 hours at the end of a 10-week trial.
Trial judge Mr Justice Roderick Evans told them: "Your concern about being shamed in your community was greater than the love of your child.
"Shafilea was in a vulnerable condition when you killed her. She was still weak from the effects of the ingestion of bleach which she had taken to try to avoid what you had planned.
"A truly horrifying feature of this case is that you killed Shafilea in the presence of your other four children."
Iftikhar Ahmed stood impassively as the verdicts were given. Mrs Ahmed wiped tears from her eyes with a tissue.
Their other children Junyad, Mevish and the youngest, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all broke down in tears.
In a press conference following the sentencing, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the verdicts were "testament to the courage and fortitude of Alesha Ahmed".
Cheshire Police described the killing as a "vile and disgraceful act".
Speaking after the verdicts, Shafilea's close friend, Melissa Powner, read a statement to the media in which she paid tribute to the teenager and spoke about the pain of having to watch as the killers roamed free.
The court had been told the Ahmeds had tried to control Shafilea and when they failed they crushed her.
The teenager had dreamt of becoming a lawyer. In public her parents described her as "beautiful and beloved" but at their home in Cheshire they bullied and abused her.
As she grew up, Shafilea tried to maintain a social life with friends from outside her community.
She refused to conform to her parent's traditional values. It infuriated them when she tried to make contact with boyfriends or dyed her hair.
They hated the fact that she would occasionally wear stiletto heels.
In February 2003 Shafilea was taken to Pakistan where her parents tried to force her into marriage - something they always denied.
But during her stay Shafilea collapsed after drinking bleach, severely burning her throat.
Police say the marriage fell through, bringing shame on the family, according to their culture.
At her parents' trial, prosecution barrister Andrew Edis QC said: "Swallowing bleach is the act of a person who has been reduced to such a level of desperation that self-destruction seems better than life. That tells you a lot about what that person thought life will hold."
After the Ahmeds returned to the UK tension rose and on September 11, 2003, Shafilea went missing.
Despite a thorough search locally and several public appeals there were few clues as to the girl's whereabouts. But from the beginning police suspected her parents and the family home was bugged.
They heard the parents fretting about DNA, swearing about police officers and coaching their children about what to say regarding Shafilea's disappearance. But it was not enough to secure a conviction.
Then, on the morning of February 4, 2004, five months after Shafilea had gone missing, a workman discovered her remains in undergrowth on the banks of the River Kent in Cumbria.
By this stage detectives had gathered a lot of evidence but as time passed the investigation seemed to stall. They were still missing the breakthrough that would prove beyond doubt that the girl's parents were responsible.
That breakthrough finally came more than six years later when Shafilea's sister Alesha helped plan a robbery at her own family home in August 2010.
During a police interview she said that she had witnessed the murder seven years earlier when she was just 15.
She described in court how her mother Farzana had held Shafilea down on a settee and together with Iftikhar had pushed a plastic bag into her mouth until she stopped breathing.
Although Alesha told the jury she had seen everything, she was contradicted by another sister Mevish. On oath, she denied knowing anything about the killing and said that contrary to Alesha's account the family had assumed that Shafilea had run away from home, as she had done in the past.
On seeing media coverage of the trial Mevish's friend Shahin Munir came forward with a very different story and the prosecution wasted no time in putting her before the trial jury. She told them that Mevish had sent letters to her in 2008 outlining the details of the killing.
Then came a further headache for Iftikhar Ahmed's defence team. Eight weeks into the trial his wife changed her story saying that, contrary to what she had told police in earlier interviews, she had seen him attacking Shafilea on the night she went missing.
She continued to deny that she had any involvement telling the court that when she tried to intervene she was "punched with a clenched fist" before going upstairs with the other children because she was scared.
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what do you think?
absolute evil vermin
Justice for Shafilea at last. How a young pretty woman can be murdered for wanting to be free, and by her own parents no less, is disgraceful. Honour killing ? Where is the honour in murdering your own children ! ? Anyone who believes in this abhorent system of 'honour killings' should be deported, they have no place in a 21st Century soceity. At least Shafilea can rest in peace now, beyond all pain and suffering. And if there is a Hell, and im not sure there is, i'd like to see what excuse her parents give to Old Nick when they ultimately arrive. RIP Shafilea.
Stevie - for once I agree with everything you say!!
I actually agree with most of what Stevie say's on news topics...R.I.P Shalfilea.
Honour killings disgust me and are carried out by the lowest from of life. I trust they will get 30+ years in gaol for this and shoud be left to rot. There is no place for this in british society or any other society
It's the right verdict. Shafilea seemed a lovely young woman. How dare they put an end to her life simply because she wanted to take part in the broader community.
Two women per week are murdered by either a partner or a family member who wants to control them.
and what religion and culture would these so called honour killings be done by then , wouldnt be the very one you go out of your way to stand up for by any chance christopher
Justice at last for that poor girl - evil parents, I hope they rot in hell
yet another so called honour killing. yet another example of people who want to live in the western world but dont want to adhere to our laws. anyone who wants to live in our country should be prepared to accept out law system not a lot to ask for is it
Spot on Michael,I wonder who gave thumbs down
gice you two guesses lol..the dinosaur
You don't know how pleased i am to see that at last a guilty party to the honour killing of their own children have been convicted and hopefully receive a 30 year plus jail sentence. All this girl wanted to do, like myself growing up in the seventies and eighties, was to be a part of the society and live in the britsh way of life and not the backward way of their parents. For every one of these cases that have been successfully prosecuted there are ,any thousands that are living, that have suffered these horrible treatments by their parents, are damaged and mentaly scarred for life and these are the lucky ones. RIP Shafilea, i hope many other girls and boys in similar circumstances will benefit from today's judgement.
Well said Jack.
As appalling as this tragedy is, it is important to remember that, as Westerners, we should not judge other cultures by our own. It is wrong to refer to those of other cultures as 'vermin' or 'sc*m' - Eastern religions have different values which, whilst we may disagree with them, have been part of their culture for many centuries and are as important to them as our values are to us. Only 150 years ago, the British still bought and sold slaves and staged public executions. We still hanged people in the 1960's and, in 2012 there is little tolerance of travellers, bikers, dysfunctional familes and others who do not conform to what is considered normal by our society. Understanding and gentle persuation/integration is the key.
as appaalling as this tragedy is it is important to remember that when in OUR country you must abide by OUR laws. ANY part of your "culture" that does not fit in with our way of living should be abandoned. By coming to this country you have agreed to live by our laws. Should you not be happy with that arrangement you are free to move to a country that practices the way of life you wish to live. No one is forced to live here, movement elsewhere is available to anyone. Please don't give us history lessons - we are living in the future and the sooner you realise that past actions do not justify many actions people seem to take now, the better. Yes, slavery happened but don't forget - those slaves were sold to the "westerners" by the African chiefs and such - the white man didn't go into the jungles and hunt people down - they just bought what was on sale. Understanding and gentle persuasion is no longer an option when people are being murdered by cultural practices. Honour killings by muslims, whichcraft killings and femals genital mutilation by africans.... how can a society deal with this by understanding and pursuasion?
I agree with your points in history, RFBevan, but wholeheartedly disagree with the practice of forced marriages. And not ALL muslims are so traditional in the way that these two are - obviously, Shafilea herself is a perfect example of this. It's time traditionalists of ALL religions came into the 21st century and stopped trying to impose their backward beliefs on the rest of us - that includes those who believe in forced marriages, female circumcision, those who believe it's wrong for a woman to choose to have an abortion, or for people of the same sex to get married.
rfbevan do you realise how stupid your comments make you look. murder is murder whatever culture you follow. these people quite happily embrace all the advantages of the modern society they should therefore accept the laws of one. by the way you refer to things that happened in the past. well we accepted our laws at that time were wrong and we changed them these cultures should do the same
Excuse me rfbevan, I have no intention whatsoever of supporting the integration of valuesof those who would murder their children into our society.
That poor girl can now rest in peace. I'm a parent myself and although I try to understand and respect other cultures,I would've thought no matter what background you got,you love and adore and cherish your children no matter what and would'nt do them harm..how wrong can you be..
Yeah, and its even harder for those of us that have lost our children.
Am very sorry to hear/know that.Can't imagine what that would feel like.
Shafilea was the latest in a long line of women faced with, first, ongoing abuse, then, tragically, her own murder. One in four women in this country have experienced one form or other of abuse. Two women every week are murdered every week by either a partner or a family member.
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This is the type of values that should be addressed by our government immigration when allowing new immigrants into the UK. Bringing these type of acts with them can not be acceptable This poor girl suffered and we did nothing to help or stop the traditions that ended her life
I cannot understand, if you do not want to raise your children in a western culture, don't move into one. I have just returned from the east, mainly India and Pakistan and I have having spoken to many Hindi and Muslim young people, who were wonderful. What was most pleasing , was to hear their rejection of old religious values that bring about the barbarism that is demonstrated in the case above. I wish these young people well in bringing about a society in which parents will not murder their children for the type of shoes they wish to wear. RIP Shafilea.
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And don't forget the endless run of dodgy lawyers trying to get them off all on legal aid of course
I was going to read what you said but found myself staring at two enormous br***ts instead. Sorry if you were actually trying to make a valid comment.
Welcome to the civilised world. We don't murder our children here just because we disaprove of what they're wearing, who they go out with or because they have a bit of teenage rebellion.
its wrong that we allow immigrants to live in our country if they have no intention whatsover of living within our laws. no intention of even trying to intergrate, slowly but surely our culture is being eroded away, we will be the minority in our own country. this must never be allowed to happen.
Honour killings have NOTHING to do with religion. May they rot in hell! I wish they could be immediately deported, and then go to jail in their own country doing hard labour.