Execute me, pleads Muslim who killed his daughter over her Western lifestyle

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A strict Muslim who slit his daughter's throat because he believed she had become too Westernised pleaded with a judge yesterday to sentence him to death.

When Abdalla Yones learnt that his 16-year-old child, Heshu, had begun seeing a Christian teenager he stabbed her 11 times. After breaking down the door of the bathroom where she had barricaded herself in, he slit her throat leaving her to bleed to death.

Yesterday, as the 48-year-old Kurd was sentenced to life after becoming the first person in Britain to admit an "honour killing", the policeman at the head of the investigation, Commander Andy Baker, warned anyone who carried out a similar murder - whatever religion they were - would suffer the severest penalties.

With an estimated 12 such deaths in Britain last year, Scotland Yard vowed to seek out those who collude in covering up for the killers. Police are considering such prosecutions in Heshu's case. "We will not tolerate it, neither should any community," Mr Baker said.

Revealing pictures of the "bright, vibrant" teenager who was killed, Mr Baker added: "The haunting video images of Heshu Yones put a face to a crime that has, for too long, been shrouded and obscured by fear of cultural reprimand."

Sawsan Salim, co-ordinator of the Kurdistan Refugees Women's Organisation, insisted yesterday that the community condemned such killings. "No excuse should be given for such a brutal tragedy," he said.

Yones, the Old Bailey heard, had fled the brutality of Saddam Hussein's regime 10 years ago, bringing his young family to Britain. While they adapted easily to life in Europe he felt like a "fish out of water".

Heshu, the "jewel" in her father's crown, had enraged him with her increasingly Western ways and endured "very significant physical abuse" from him.

Having fallen for Samnizam Elkhouri, a Lebanese-born 18-year-old, she decided to run away with him. But her secret was revealed when Yones received a letter, written in Kurdish, describing his daughter as a slut. On 12 October last year, he "hacked his daughter to death", before cutting his own throat and jumping from a third floor balcony of their home in Acton, west London.

Police officers found him injured but alive and went into the flat to discover Heshu's body. A bent and broken kitchen knife still protruding from her neck bore testament to the savagery of the attack.

Yones's barrister, Icah Peart, QC, told Judge Neil Denison: "He has asked me to ask you to pass a sentence of execution. I have made it clear that your Lordship does not have that power."

Describing the case as a "tragic story arising out of irreconcilable cultural differences", the judge told Yones: "It is plain you strongly and genuinely disapproved of the lifestyle in this country of your daughter and the fact that it was affecting her school work. But, having said that, the killing and the manner of it was, as you have recognised, an appalling act. That is why immediately after and then again last month, you tried to take your own life. I accept it is still your intention.

"But there is only one sentence that the law allows me to pass where the crime is murder and that is the sentence I do pass - life."

John McGuinness, QC, for the prosecution, said Heshu was a "bubbly, cheeky, fun-loving" girl who was popular with school friends. She asked friends to lie for her so she could enjoy herself while evading her father's strict gaze.

She lived a double life, secretly putting on make-up only after she left home. Having started a relationship with a fellow pupil at William Morris Academy in Fulham, she began to play truant on a regular basis to spend time with him.

"There was tension at home particularly with her father. He was not happy with her lifestyle and wanted her to live within the Muslim religion and cultural traditions," explained Mr McGuinness.

During a family holiday to Kurdistan last year, Heshu became worried her father might try and arrange a marriage for her - and she felt trapped.

"It was while there that the defendant might have discovered that his daughter had a boyfriend and that she was not a virgin," said Mr McGuinness. Yones pulled a gun on his daughter and threatened to kill her.

On their return to Britain, Heshu started to make plans to run away and wrote to her father, saying: "Bye Dad, sorry I was so much trouble. Me and you will probably never understand each other, but I'm sorry I wasn't what you wanted, but there's some things you can't change." She ended the letter by saying: "Hey, for an older man you have a good strong punch and kick. I hope you enjoyed testing your strength on me, it was fun being on the receiving end. Well done."

When Yones received the letter, he brooded over the contents and decided to talk to her about it on the day of the murder. A row broke out which culminated in the attack.

Yones, who spent months in hospital afterwards, but made a full recovery, first claimed Heshu had been killed by an al-Qa'ida gang before admitting the killing last week.

Yones's barrister said his client had endured the brutality of Saddam's regime and become involved in the struggle for independence, just like his father before him. Eventually, he fled with his wife, daughter and two sons to the UK where he was granted indefinite leave to remain.

Mr Baker said after the case: "Let this conviction be a message, loud and clear, to those who misrepresent their own communities and condone or stay silent over the treatment of women in their midst.

"'Honour killing' is murder and the police and the justice system will come down on you like a ton of bricks if you are found to be guilty of, or an accomplice to, such so-called 'crimes of honour'."

MURDER IN THE NAME OF TRADITION

Rukhsana Naz, 19, was strangled by her brother Shazad as her mother held her legs down. The 19-year-old from Derby had become pregnant by her sweetheart. But she was already married to another man, in Pakistan, and had two children by him. In May, 1999, her mother and brother were sentenced to life at Nottingham Crown Court.

In February last year, Faqir Mohammed was jailed for life for stabbing his daughter, Shahida, 24, to death. He had returned to their Manchester home and found her fully clothed on her bed with a boyfriend. He tried to kill him but Shahida stood in his way. Mohammed said it was his right to kill a man who was in his daughter's bedroom.

Surjit Kaur Athwal, 26, of Hayes, west London, disappeared on a trip to India in 1998 after she began divorce proceedings. Her family believes she was the victim of an honour killing, a theory supported by police. Her husband was arrested but denied any involvement. Three other relatives were held, then released without charge.

In January this year, Sahda Bibi, 21, was stabbed to death on the day of her wedding in Birmingham, after refusing to enter an arranged marriage with another man. West Midlands Police have charged a 25-year-old man with her murder and are still hunting Ms Bibi's cousin, who is believed to have fled to Pakistan.