'Cousin stabbed Muslim bride in honour killing'

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A Muslim woman was stabbed to death by her cousin on her wedding day because her family disapproved of the man she was to marry, a court was told yesterday.

Sahjda Bibi was attacked with a kitchen knife in an "honour killing" by her cousin Rafaqat Hussain. He stabbed her 22 times before fleeing in a BMW with another cousin, Tafarak Hussain, who was waiting outside the house, Birmingham Crown Court was told.

Rafaqat, 38, from Camberley, Surrey, pleaded guilty to murder at an earlier hearing. Tafarak, from Bordesley, Birmingham, denies murder.

Miss Bibi's marriage to Mugham Zaffar, 29, who had been married before, caused controversy within her devout Muslim family.

Tim Raggatt QC, for the prosecution, said Rafaqat had finalised details of the alleged murder with Tafarak the day before the wedding in January.

Describing the events that led to Miss Bibi's murder, Mr Raggatt told the court: "Sahjda Bibi, at the time aged just 21, was upstairs in the bedroom at the front of her house, getting ready to be married.

"In a few moments, what in other circumstances might have been a very happy day, was shattered ­ shattered in a most brutal fashion because as she was in that room preparing for her marriage, Sahjda Bibi was murdered. She was stabbed to death by one of her own family. Her first cousin, Rafaqat Hussain ... she sustained 22 separate injuries."

The groom told the court he had been alerted to the attack when he heard screams as he prepared for the wedding ceremony in the house next door.

Speaking through an interpreter, he said: "Sahjda's brother said 'I'm going to get some tea for you'.

"Within a minute or two of his leaving I heard screams and a lot of noise coming from next door. When I heard the noise I got up to go outside, I saw my sister had fallen down and also there was Rafaqat. I have met him a number of times before."

Describing how he was injured as he attempted to restrain Rafaqat, he added: "I heard he had killed Sahjda. I tried to grab him, punch him and kick him and I threw him to the ground.

"I didn't realise he had a knife, but I noticed blood on his clothes. It was then that I saw a knife. He tried to use the same knife on me and he managed to get away.

"When I went inside the house I saw Sahjda's body."

Tafarak allegedly assisted in Rafaqat's escape by driving him to an awaiting taxi which he had ordered to take him to Heathrow airport, from where he planned to fly to Pakistan, Mr Raggatt said.

Describing Tafarak's alleged role in the murder as "absolutely vital", he said: "He realised what he was doing assisting Rafaqat to carry out the plan, knowing or realising that it was Rafaqat's intention to carry out that plan.

"He was the willing assistant. The killing simply could not have been done without the planning and without the active help of Tafarak Hussain."

The trial continues.