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6:28pm UK, Tuesday May 22, 2012
The sister of killed teenager Shafilea Ahmed has described in court how her parents physically abused Shafilea “nearly every day”.
On the second day of the trial at Chester Crown court, Alesha Ahmed spoke from behind a curtain so she could not see her mother and father.
Taxi driver Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, and his wife Farzana, 49, deny murdering Shafilea, whose badly decomposed remains were found near a Cumbrian river in February 2004.
The court heard Alesha Ahmed told police she saw her parents suffocate Shafilea, 17, at the family home in Warrington in September 2003.
Shafilea had refused to enter into a forced marriage with her cousin in Pakistan, the court has been told.
Alesha, Shafelia’s younger sister, told the jury that her parents’ Pakistani culture meant she and her sister were “restricted in terms of Western culture”, which included the clothes they could wear and when they could go out.
Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed
Alesha said Shafilea, a British-Pakistani college student, led a “secret life” because she was doing things she thought her parents would not approve of.
Asked what triggered the physical abuse from their parents, Alesha said it was the friends Shafilea had, the use of her phone and the clothes she was wearing.
She said the abuse was at its worst when Shafilea’s parents found out about her male friends.
Alesha described one occasion in the kitchen at the family home.
“I can actually picture it,” she said.
“There were knives used to scare her or threaten her.”
She said both of her parents had knives and Shafilea had been sitting on the floor.
“They were just hitting her,” she told the court.
“It was really out of control”.
Alesha described another occasion when Shafilea was locked in a room with their mother and “not given anything to eat for a long period of time”.
Asked how often the violence occurred Alesha answered: “Too often”.
:: Read the Sky News live blog from the court in Chester
Prosecuting barrister Andrew Edis QC told the jury that Alesha would later tell the court she witnessed her parents suffocate Shafilea by forcing a carrier bag into her mouth.
Mr Edis also told the jury that Alesha claims she then saw her mother in the kitchen “sorting through blankets and sheets.”
She then said her father went out to the garden shed and came back with bin bags and brown tape.
The court heard that Mr Ahmed then put the object in the car and drove off.
The jury was told that Alesha came forward to police with her version of events after she was arrested in connection with a robbery at her parents’ home in August 2010.
Mr Edis told the court they would have to decide whether she is telling a truth which she has kept under wraps for years because of family loyalty – or whether for some reason after her arrest for robbery she “tried to help herself” and made it up.
The trial continues.