Family to go on trial after woman stoned to death

The father of a pregnant Pakistani woman who was stoned to death, and four other men, have been charged with killing her after she married against the family’s wishes. Their trial is set to begin today, police said.

Farzana Parveen, 25, was killed on May 27 before a crowd of onlookers near a downtown courthouse in the eastern city of Lahore. A mob beat her with bricks and killed her as she was on her way to court to contest an abduction case her family had filed against her husband.

A Pakistani court indicted her father, two brothers, a cousin and a man who claimed he had been married to Parveen, on charges of murder and torture. All five men pleaded not guilty, according to Mian Zulfiqar, the police investigator.

The trial will begin on Monday when the court has called on prosecution witnesses to appear, said Zulfiqar. He said police and doctors who conducted the autopsy of the victim would be among those testifying. “We have a strong case against the suspects but it is up to the court how to take view of our investigation,” he said.

The case has brought international attention to violence against women in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where hundreds of women are killed by relatives each year in so-called ‘honour killings’ carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behaviour.

Arranged marriages are the norm among conservative Pakistanis, and Parveen’s family was angry she married Mohammed Iqbal for love. But Pakistan’s blood-money laws allow a victim’s family to forgive the murderer, which makes prosecuting so-called ‘honour’ cases difficult because the killer is usually a relative.

And Iqbal himself admitted he had strangled his first wife out of love for Parveen.

He was spared jail for his first wife’s murder because his sons persuaded her family to pardon him under the blood-money laws.


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