3 Sep 2010

Parents released in ‘honour killing’ probe

As the parents of suspected honour killing victim Shafilea Ahmed are released on bail, Midlands Correspondent Darshna Soni writes that her family are deeply upset by the action taken against them.

Shafilea Ahmed, suspected honour killing victim

Shafilea Ahmed went missing from her family home in Warrington, Cheshire, in October 2003, sparking a major police search.

The 17-year-old’s decomposed body were found in the River Kent in the Lake District five months later.

Her father, Iftikhar, 50, and mother, Faranza, 47, have always denied any involvement in Shafilea’s death and said they would never have forced her into a marriage she did not want.

The couple were arrested on suspicion of murder at their home yesterday morning but have now been released from custody, Cheshire Police confirmed.

Channel 4 News Midlands Correspondent Darshna Soni writes: “Mr and Mrs Ahmed are extremely upset and angry at the latest police action taken against them.

“I was speaking to a family friend at their home when news of their release on bail came through. They have always denied any involvement in Shafilea’s death.

“The family friend told me: “Mr and Mrs Ahmed insist one day the truth will come out.

“They have been advised not to give any interviews at present as they will have to answer bail at a later date.”

Shafilea, 17, was last seen alive, doing her homework at home, on September 11, 2003, her inquest was told. The student, who hoped to become a solicitor, was reported missing a week later by a former school teacher.

Mr Ahmed said he did not report her missing because police dismissed his previous reports that she had disappeared in November 2002 and January 2003.

A few months earlier, during a trip to Pakistan to meet a prospective husband, Shafilea had refused an arranged marriage and had drunk bleach. Shafilea also ran away for 10 days in February 2003 when she told housing officers: “My parents are going to send me to Pakistan and I’ll be married to someone and left there.”

In his inquest evidence, Mr Ahmed told the hearing that such an arrangement needed the consent of the boy and girl. He said he accepted his daughter’s reply of “no way” when a potential suitor was mentioned.

Shafilea’s body was discovered after heavy floods washed away the dense undergrowth where it was hidden on the banks of the River Kent at Sedgwick, Cumbria, in February 2004. Coroner for East and South Cumbria Ian Smith, who conducted the inquest in January 2008, concluded she suffered a “vile murder”.

Mr Smith said: “I believe she was taken from her home. I do not believe she ran away.”

Last month it emerged that her youngster sister, Alisha, 22, was questioned by police investigating an armed robbery at their family home.