I want justice for Shafilea Ahmed, says her sister


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The Independent Online

The sister of Shafilea Ahmed told a court today that she broke her seven-year silence about the murder because she could not "go back to her grave" until she got justice for the teenager.

Alesha Ahmed was continuing her evidence at Chester Crown Court where parents, Iftikhar, 52, and Farzana, 49, deny murdering 17-year-old Shafilea.

The teenager vanished in September 2003 and her decomposed remains were discovered in Cumbria in February 2004.

It was not until last year that Ms Ahmed provided the "final piece of the puzzle" about Shafilea's death, the prosecution say, when she claimed she witnessed her parents killing Shafilea at the family home in Liverpool Road, Warrington.

On her ninth day in the witness box, Ms Ahmed again denied claims by the defence that she had made up the story to try and get herself out of trouble after she admitted organising a robbery at the family home in August 2010.

Asked by Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, to describe how she felt when she made the decision to tell the police, she said she had felt "torn", adding: "When you grow up in that environment you become really used to it.

"Even though they have done all these things I still care about them (her parents). I have to speak for my sister. I said to myself 'I am not going to go back to her grave without saying something'."

Breaking down in tears, she added that she could not go back "until she had done her justice".

Earlier today Ms Ahmed, who was giving evidence behind a curtain, was cross-examined by Mukhtar Hussain QC, representing Mrs Ahmed. He said the story was made up and was her "get out of jail card".

She replied: "There's no such thing."

The court heard that Ms Ahmed was being blackmailed by the gang which went on to carry out the armed robbery, which led to her mother and siblings being tied up and threatened with a hammer, a gun and an iron bar.

The court heard she owed them £3,900.

Mr Hussain said: "You said to your mother 'Some boys at university have given me a gun to put in my locker. Someone has taken it and now they are asking me for it and if I can't give it them then they are asking for money'."

Ms Ahmed replied: "It's a ridiculous story which is being made up. That's the first time I've heard of it."

But Ms Ahmed repeatedly refused to explain why she was targeted by the gang, only saying it was "personal" and that she was still getting help dealing with what had happened to her.

She also told the court her parents had told the children what to say to the police when they started asking questions about Shafilea in September 2003.

Mr Hussain asked if Ms Ahmed, who was 15 at the time of the alleged killing, was making up her answers to the police when they asked if they were a "happy family".

Ms Ahmed, now 23, said: "Before all these interviews happened we were told to say that she had run away. Not to say that she had been abused in any way."

She added: "We were always told to paint a picture that we all got on well and there wasn't any abuse."

Earlier in the trial, Ms Ahmed described how her parents pushed Shafilea onto the settee in their house and she heard her mother say "Just finish it here" in Urdu as they forced a plastic bag into the teenager's mouth and suffocated her in front of their other children.

The couple murdered their "Westernised" daughter because they believed her conduct was bringing shame on the family, the prosecution say.

The jury was sent home for the day and the trial will continue tomorrow at 10.30am.