A mother accused of murdering her daughter because she brought shame on the family has admitted for the first time that she realised her husband had “probably killed” the teenager just one week after she went missing, a court heard today.
Farzana Ahmed, 49, and her husband Iftikhar, 52, of Liverpool Road, Warrington, are on trial at Chester Crown Court charged with killing their daughter Shafilea, 17, in 2003.
The prosecution say the couple murdered their daughter because the "westernised" teenager was bringing shame on the family.
On day two of Mrs Ahmed's evidence she told the court that she had witnessed her husband punching and slapping Shafilea on the night of the alleged killing.
She claims she does not know what her husband did with their daughter but that he later threatened to "do the same" to her and her other children if she spoke about what had happened.
Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, said: "So what did you think when she didn't turn up?"
Mrs Ahmed, who spoke with the aid of an interpreter, replied: "I thought there was a reason why my daughter was not coming back home."
"And what was that?" Mr Edis asked.
"I thought my husband took her. He must have done something," she said.
Mr Edis asked: "What did you think he must have done?"
The defendant replied: "Because I didn't hear anything from her, so I thought he probably had killed her."
Mr Edis asked when she came to this conclusion and she replied: "After a week or so later when I didn't hear anything from her."
Mr Edis said: "So for several years you brought up your three daughters with a man who you thought had killed their sister?"
She said she had no choice and that Mr Ahmed could have killed her and the other children.
She added: "I was fearful he could do the same to us. That's why I didn't say anything."
Mr Edis responded: "But surely that was the reason why you had to say something? To keep these other little girls alive?"
He accused the defendant of being more worried about her family in Pakistan and the "joint ownership" of family land and property than protecting her daughter's life.
She said: "I admit that my children's lives are more important to me than the land and property in Pakistan."
Mr Edis said it was the fact Shafilea was from Warrington and did not share the family's values which "threatened" them.
Mrs Ahmed said: "She didn't give me any trouble. It didn't bother me."
Mr Edis said that that was why the defendant said "finish it now" when it is alleged that she killed Shafilea with her husband.
"I did not say that to my husband. I had no involvement in that," she said.
"And that's why you both then killed her," Mr Edis said.
She replied: "I did not kill her. I am saying I had no involvement."
Mrs Ahmed has always denied murder, but earlier this month the jury of seven men and five women were told she had changed her account and said she witnessed her husband beat Shafilea on the night of the alleged murder.
Mr Edis said the defendant "decided to dump" her husband to try and save herself from a murder conviction.
It was not until last year that Shafilea's younger sister, Alesha Ahmed, provided the "final piece of the puzzle" about her death, the prosecution said, when she disclosed that she witnessed her parents killing Shafilea at the family home.
Alesha described how her parents pushed Shafilea onto the settee in their house and she heard her mother say "just finish it here" as they forced a plastic bag into the teenager's mouth and suffocated her in front of their other children.
Alesha's version of events appear to have been corroborated in writings her sister Mevish gave to a friend in 2008, which emerged shortly after the start of the trial.
Mevish told the jury the writings were "fiction" and that her parents played no part in Shafilea's death.
Mr and Mrs Ahmed both deny murder.
The jury was sent home for the weekend and the trial will continue on Monday.