Shafilea Ahmed’s father denies murder after wife changes story


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The Independent Online

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

The father of a murdered 17-year-old girl broke down in court today as he denied killing her.

52-year-old Iftikhar Ahmed struggled to speak as he denied murdering his daughter as punishment for bringing shame on the family by leading a westernised lifestyle.

Mr. Ahmed and his wife Farzana, 49, have been on trial for the last eight weeks charged with killing Shafilea in 2003.

Throughout the trial Mrs. Ahmed has denied knowing or having anything to do with Shafilea’s murder, but last week she changed her account to say she had witnessed her husband beat Shafilea on the night of her disappearance.

She also claimed Iftikhar had threatened to do the same to her and their other children if she ever asked him what had happened to Shafilea.

But today Mr. Ahmed denied ever hurting his daughter or having anything to do with Shafilea’s death, adding that he still loved his wife “to bits” despite her allegations.

Defence barrister Tom Bayliss QC asked: “Have you ever caused any harm to your daughter Shafilea?”

Ahmed said: “No.”

Mr Bayliss then asked: “Were you responsible for the death of your daughter?”

He replied: “No”, adding “We were devastated to find out that she had left home in the first place.“

When he was asked how he felt when his daughter's body was found, he struggled to respond, before adding in a strained voice: ”We couldn't believe it when we heard.“

Mr Bayliss asked how the police inquiries of 2003 affected the family.

Mr Ahmed said: "It was constant media attention, police presence, social services presence every day... just questions, questions, questions. We never got any rest from it.

"The children were having to listen to the news media. Taunting from children in the school. Children say a lot of things when they have read the news. Then I was having to comfort them when they came home."

Asked about being arrested on suspicion of kidnap, Mr Ahmed said: "We didn't expect the police to come and investigate us for kidnapping. That was a shock in itself... the way the inquiry was, it was constant finger-pointing, like the parents are involved one way or another."

Shafilea disappeared in September 2003 and her body was found on the bank of the River Kent in Cumbria the following February.