I did not hurt my daughter, father tells murder trial

As his wife changes her story, Iftikhar Ahmed says he had nothing to do with Shafilea's killing

A father accused of murdering his 17-year-old daughter because he believed she had brought shame on his family broke down in court yesterday as he denied the charge.

Iftikhar Ahmed took to the stand for the first time two days after his co-accused wife changed her defence to say she had witnessed him attacking their daughter Shafilea.

After previously denying any knowledge of the alleged crime, Farzana Ahmed, 49, now claims her husband had threatened to beat her and their other children if she ever asked him what happened to Shafilea.

But yesterday Mr Ahmed, 52, told the honour killing trial at Chester Crown Court that he did not hurt his daughter or have anything to do with her murder.

He told defending QC Tom Bayliss that he "couldn't believe it when we heard" about his daughter's body being found on the bank of the river Kent in Cumbria in February 2004. He added: "We were devastated to find she had left home in the first place."

The prosecution claims Shafilea, who went missing in September 2003, was killed by her parents because she brought shame on the family by her desire to lead a westernised lifestyle.But Mr Ahmed told jurors he "totally agreed" with his daughter's ambition to become a solicitor.

In yesterday's court exchanges Mr Bayliss asked Mr Ahmed about his attitude towards his daughter's social life, her friends and boyfriends.

Mr Ahmed said he did not have any problem with his daughter's friends and that he was not aware of any boyfriends at the time.

He was asked what he would have thought if he known about boyfriends. Mr Ahmed said if he and his wife had known about them "there would not [have been] a problem".

"If we know who she is going with and then we get to know about who he is and if she likes the person then that's fine," he said.

He added: "It's her life."

He said he did not know where Shafilea got the impression that she was going to be "married off". A marriage proposal for Shafilea had been made by a "distant uncle" in Pakistan on behalf of his son, but it had not been accepted, Mr Ahmed told the court. "We have been fighting to achieve justice for our daughter Shafilea. We wanted to know what happened from day one," an emotional Mr Ahmed told the court.

Describing his daughter to the jury Mr Ahmed said she was talented and athletic.

"Education-wise, she was absolutely brilliant. Her best subject was art, she liked making mosaics," he said.

Mr Ahmed added: "She was a character – very bubbly, very talkative – everything a child should be."

The trial continues.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border