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5:44pm UK, Monday May 21, 2012
The murder of a Pakistani-British college student by her parents was witnessed by her sister, a jury has heard.
The decomposed remains of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed were discovered in Cumbria in February 2004 – five months after she was last seen.
Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed are accused of carrying out the killing after their daughter refused to take part in an arranged marriage.
Shafilea Ahmed went missing in 2004
They both deny murdering Shafilea, which is alleged to have been carried out at the family home in Warrington in September 2003.
Prosecutor Andrew Edis QC told the Chester Crown Court that the case had taken a “very long time” to be brought to trial because it was not until August 2010 that a witness to the crime came forward.
“This witness is Alesha Ahmed, Shafilea’s younger sister.”
The court heard that Alesha kept silent for seven years and only told police after she was arrested for taking part in a robbery at her parents’ home in Liverpool Road, Warrington.
Mr Edis said Alesha witnessed the killing of her sister by their parents “acting together”.
“This evidence was the final piece of the puzzle which the police had been trying to solve for many years.”
“Until that moment they had no direct evidence of murder,” he added.
Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed
Mr Edis said that, after witnessing the murder, Alesha lived in a family “under great strain” and that as she grew up she suffered from “divided loyalties”.
Sky’s Becky Johnson was at the court. She said: “Andrew Edis QC pointed out to the jury that it (Alesha’s witness statement) would be an extraordinary thing to say about her parents if it were not true.”
The court also heard that Shafilea was a thoroughly Westernised teenager of Pakistani origin, but her parents had standards that she was reluctant to conform to.
The jury was told Shafilea wanted to have boyfriends – a source of great tension in the family.
Shafilea had tried to run away from home in 2002 and 2003, the court heard.
The jury was also told that in 2003 Shafilea’s father abducted her and took her to Pakistan.
While she was in Pakistan, Shafilea feared she had been taken there indefinitely to marry, the court heard.
The jury also heard that while she was in Pakistan she drank bleach, in what Mr Edis described as an “act of self-harm and desperation”.
Mr Edis said: “The defendants, having spent the best part of 12 months trying to really crush her, realised they were never going to be able to succeed and finally killed her because her conduct dishonoured the family, bringing shame on them.”