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Pakistan cops saw woman killed, did nothing

31 May 2014, 09:41

Chak - Pakistani police investigating the murder of a woman bludgeoned to death outside a court have arrested four men, a senior officer said on Friday, as her husband said he wanted her killers to "die in pain".

Farzana Parveen was killed on Tuesday outside the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore by more than two dozen attackers armed with bricks, including numerous relatives, for marrying against her family's wishes.

Her husband Mohammad Iqbal - who Thursday admitted he had strangled his first wife out of love for Parveen - told AFP he wanted to see her attackers "killed with bricks".

Hundreds of women are murdered by their relatives in Pakistan each year supposedly in the name of defending family "honour".

But the brazen, brutal nature of Parveen's killing, in broad daylight in the centre of Pakistan's second largest city, has triggered outrage around the world.

Police were apparently at the scene, but did not intervene to save Parveen, who was three months pregnant.

Officers made arrests late on Thursday after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is his brother, to take immediate action on the case.

"Special investigation teams set up by police on the directive of the chief minister arrested four more people including an uncle and two cousins of the slain woman and a driver on Thursday night," senior police official Zulfiqar Hameed told AFP on Friday.

The new arrests bring the number held over the killing to five, after Parveen's father was detained at the scene of the attack.

Shahbaz Sharif has ordered police to round up all those involved within 24 hours.

Die in pain

He has also directed that the case should be heard in an anti-terrorism court. This should mean it moves more quickly than in an ordinary court.

Pakistan's regular courts are notoriously slow, with many cases dragging on for years with little progress.

The country's Supreme Court has also demanded a police report on the incident.

In a macabre twist to the case, Parveen's husband Mohammad Iqbal admitted to AFP on Thursday that he had strangled his first wife.

On Friday in Chak 367, the tiny, dusty hamlet where he lives - known like many small settlements in rural Punjab by a number - Iqbal said he regretted the earlier killing.

"I was in love with Farzana and one day, when I was going to see her, my first wife blocked my way which infuriated me," he told AFP.

"I did not intend to kill her. I regret that she died and it was my loss."

He was spared jail because his sons persuaded his dead wife's family to pardon him under Pakistan's blood-money laws.

These allow a victim's family to forgive the murderer, which makes prosecuting so-called "honour" cases difficult as the killer is usually a relative.

But Iqbal, a farmer, said he wanted no such mercy for the killers of Parveen.

Eye for an eye

"Those who killed my wife with bricks should also be killed with bricks in front of me," he said.

"I will be happy if they die in pain. I will not reconcile and will fight for justice."

Parveen was at court to testify in Iqbal's defence when she was killed, after he was accused by her relatives of kidnapping her and forcing her into marriage.

Iqbal, who has five children from his first marriage, said Parveen's family initially agreed to their wedding before turning against it because they were unhappy with the dowry he offered.

They went ahead and married in the city of Faisalabad, around 40km from Chak 367, in January, he said.

"We came to know after three days that a report had been registered with the police against me for kidnapping, by a person who claimed to be Farzana's fiancé," Iqbal said.

After police demanded a $500 bribe, Iqbal said, he hid Parveen in an orphanage before his son asked the High Court to dismiss the kidnapping case.

"The court recorded Farzana's statement and asked police to quash the case," he said.

"On 27 May, when we came out of the courthouse, there were about 30 people, who opened fire and then attacked us with bricks.

"Her father, brother, a step-brother and her so-called fiancé surrounded Farzana and began beating her with bricks for at least 15 minutes."

Last year, 869 women died in so-called "honour killings", according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.



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