A COUPLE, who murdered their teenage daughter because they believed her “westernised” behaviour shamed her family, have been jailed for life, nine years after her death.
Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, and wife Farzana, 49, will serve a minimum of 25 years for killing Shafilea, 17.
They suffocated her with a plastic bag at their Warrington home on 11 September, 2003, after a row in which her mother urged Ahmed to “finish it here”.
He showed no emotion as he was sentenced but his wife sobbed loudly.
Judge Mr Justice Roderick Evans told the pair: “Your concern about being shamed in your community was greater than the love of your child.
“You chose to bring up your family in Warrington, but your social and cultural attitudes were those of rural Pakistan and it was those which you imposed upon your children.
“Shafilea was a determined girl who wanted to live a life which was normal in the country in which you had chosen to live. You could not tolerate the life that Shafilea wanted to live. You wanted your family to live in Pakistan in Warrington.
“Although she went to local schools, you objected to her socialising with girls from what has been referred to as the white community.
“You objected to her wearing western clothes and … to her having contact with boys.
“She was being squeezed between two cultures, the culture she saw around her and wanted to embrace, and the culture and way of life you wanted to impose on her.”
He added: “The conflict between you and her increased in the last year of her life and you tried to impose your cultural values and attitudes on her by intimidation, bullying and a use of physical violence.”
Shafilea drank bleach in a bid to kill herself after being taken to Pakistan for an arranged marriage. Her parents saw her as bring shame on them in the eyes of their community.
The judge said they had wanted to rid themselves of what they saw was a “problem” and decided the answer was to kill her in front of their four other children.
He said he did not take a view on whether their son, Junyad, played a role in the killing. “But I have no doubt that, as the result of the distorted upbringing and values to which you subjected him, he told his surviving sisters within minutes of them seeing Shafilea murdered by you that Shafilea deserved it.”
Shafilea’s body was dumped in undergrowth on a riverbank in Cumbria.
Her sisters were told to lie if asked about her disappearance.
But, after an initial police inquiry failed to uncover enough evidence to bring a prosecution, it was an alleged robbery at the family home, aided by her younger sister Alesha, that provided the breakthrough.
Alesha told police, and later the court, that her parents repeatedly attacked and abused Shafilea as she grew up, demanding she wear traditional clothes and agree to an arranged marriage.
Crying in the witness box, Alesha said her parents had held a terrified Shafilea down on the settee in their living room as the plastic bag was forced into her mouth.
“You could tell she was gasping for air,” she said. She said she watched her sister die: “That was it, she was gone.”
She described how the other children ran upstairs to their bedrooms in shock, and she saw her father carry Shafilea’s body to the car wrapped in a blanket.
The children were later told to say nothing to the authorities amid fear that they would suffer the same fate as their sister.
Shafilea’s remains were discovered in the River Kent, in Cumbria, in February 2004.
It was not until 2010 that Alesha provided the “final piece of the puzzle” about her death, the prosecution said.
Alesha’s version of events was corroborated in writings her younger sister Mevish gave to her friend Shahin Munir in 2008, which emerged shortly after the start of Alesha’s evidence. Mevish, who supported her parents’ defence, told the court the writings were a “fiction” which Alesha used to base her story on.
The couple showed little reaction when a jury unanimously found them guilty.
Iftikhar Ahmed later turned to police officers sitting near the dock and said: “F*** off.”
Their other children Junyad, Mevish and the youngest, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all broke down in tears.