7 Sep 2011

Parents of Shafilea Ahmed charged with her murder

The parents of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed have been charged with her murder, eight years after her disappearance.

The teenager’s decomposed remains were found on the banks of the River Kent in Cumbria in February 2004, six months after she disappeared from her home in Warrington, Cheshire.

Iftikhar Ahmed, 51, and Farzana Ahmed, 48, were charged with murdering their daughter on 11 September 2003 by Cheshire police. They appeared at Halton Magistrates’ Court and were remanded in custody.

The couple were first arrested in December 2003 on suspicion of kidnapping their daughter but were released without charge in June 2004 when the Crown Prosecution Service ruled that there was insufficient evidence against them. They had always denied any involvement in their daughter’s murder.

South Cumbria coroner Ian Smith recorded a verdict of unlawful killing in 2008, saying he believed the 17-year-old was probably murdered, but no-one was charged at the time. Pathologists said that she was most likely strangled or suffocated.

The court case on Wednesday was adjourned for a bail hearing at Manchester Crown Court on Friday where the couple will appear via video link.

Mrs Ahmed spoke through an interpreter and, according to reports, appeared to be on the verge of tears, while Mr Ahmed gave family members a thumbs-up sign as he was taken into custody.

The Ahmeds had been on police bail since their arrest in December 2010.

The inquest into the teenager’s death heard that she was a bright and intelligent young woman who wanted to go to university and become a lawyer.