Relatives of murdered student held for 'lying'

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The Independent Online

Five relatives of the murdered 17-year-old student Shafilea Ahmed were arrested yesterday on suspicion of lying to police.

Five relatives of the murdered 17-year-old student Shafilea Ahmed were arrested yesterday on suspicion of lying to police.

The five, all from Bradford, West Yorkshire, were detained two months after officers released Shafilea's parents from police bail on suspicion of kidnap. The relatives are suspected of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. Shafilea's parents, who deny involvement in her disappearance and death, were not among those arrested.

Shafilea, from Warrington, Cheshire, vanished a year ago tomorrow. Her badly decomposed body was found in the Lake District in February. Her disappearance came months after a family trip to Pakistan during which the teenager drank bleach in an apparent attempt to avoid an arranged marriage. There has been speculation that she may have been the victim of a so-called honour killing. Detective Chief Inspector Geraint Jones, who is leading the Cheshire Police investigation, said he had visited Shafilea's parents yesterday morning to tell them of the arrests. Detectives have not ruled out her parents being involved in her death.

Mr Jones said the five had been questioned about "alleged lies", though not in connection with the murder.

The five arrested are a woman in her 20s, a man in his early 30s, two men in their late 30s and a man in his 60s. All five were taken from Bradford to Warrington for questioning.

The parents, Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed, gatecrashed a press conference on the case three weeks after the body was found and accused Cheshire Police of racial stereotyping in arresting them.

Mr Jones rejected that accusation yesterday. He said: "The investigation has always been an open inquiry. We have ... spoken to a lot of people but we can't ignore the fact that Shafilea may have been killed because she didn't conform. That ... always will be part of the investigation."

The Ahmeds said yesterday that they were "desperate and angry" that the police had not found their daughter's killer. Their solicitor, Milton Firman, said: "They are happy for the police to carry out whatever inquiries they like but they are concerned that this is just another effort to get at them, and the police still seem to be concentrating their efforts on the family. They are not aware of what their relatives have told the police but they have certainly never asked them to lie on their behalf."

How Shafilea died is not known, but detectives believe she was murdered within days of her disappearance, which was not reported by her parents. When an inquest opened in March the coroner ordered a second post-mortem examination after hearing that the condition of the body had prevented pathologists from identifying the cause of death.