Saturday, July 26, 2014


Pakistan

Pakistani Police Arrest Four In Honor-Killing Case

Police collect evidence near the body of Farzana Parveen, who was stoned to death by her relatives in Lahore on May 27.
Police collect evidence near the body of Farzana Parveen, who was stoned to death by her relatives in Lahore on May 27.
By RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal
Pakistani police say they have arrested four men in connection with the case of a pregnant woman who was stoned to death by her own family, amid reports that the woman's husband had previously been arrested for killing his first wife.

The victim's uncle and two cousins, as well as another man, were arrested on May 29.

Farzana Parveen, 25, was killed on May 26 outside a Lahore courthouse by her own family members, including her father and brothers.

Parveen's father was detained at the scene of the attack. Police said raids are being conducted to arrest her brothers and a former fiance.

Parveen's family said she had dishonored the family by marrying 45-year-old Muhummad Iqbal against their will.

The case has focused international attention on so-called honor killings in Pakistan, leading to a call on May 29 by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for "immediate action."

It also has led to international criticism about the actions of Pakistani police after Iqbal told RFE/RL and other news organizations that several police officers in Lahore had stood by doing nothing while he shouted for them to help his wife.

Iqbal is demanding justice in the case against both the killers and police.

He claims that Parveen’s family only withdrew support for the marriage after her father demanded more money for the right to marry her than initially had been agreed at the start of their long engagement.

Now, in a shocking twist, police say Iqbal had been arrested for killing his first wife, Ayesha Bibi, in October 2009.

Zulfiqar Hameed, a senior police officer investigating Parveen’s death, said authorities would be filing a report to the government detailing Iqbal’s past.

Hameed described Iqbal as "a notorious character" who murdered his first wife.

AFP reported that Iqbal admitted on May 29 that he killed his first wife, but had been spared prison because he was forgiven by his son.

AFP quoted Iqbal as saying in a telephone interview: "I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love," adding that he had strangled her.

The case demonstrates how complicated justice can be and how dangerous life is for women in Pakistan.

It also casts a spotlight on Pakistan’s controversial blood-money laws, which allow relatives of homicide victims to pardon perpetrators -- even if the killers are from their own family, as is usually the case with so-called honor killings.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki branded such incidents "heinous" and "unjustifiable acts" against women.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a statement saying "there is absolutely no honor in honor killings."

Hague also urged Pakistan’s government to "do all in its power to eradicate this barbaric practice."

According to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 869 women died in so-called "honor killings in 2013.
 
With reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters

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