The mother of alleged honour-killing victim Shafilea Ahmed dramatically changed her defence today claiming she witnessed her husband attacking their daughter.
Farzana Ahmed, 49, denies murdering the 17-year-old at their home in Warrington, Cheshire in September 2003.
But in what the judge at Chester Crown Court described as a “significant development” in the eight week trial Mrs Ahmed now alleges that Shafilea’s father – who also denies murder - committed an “incident of violence” against the youngster and attacked his wife when tried to intervene.
However she also claims that she believed her daughter was “safe” after being taken away by Mr Ahmed following the attack. The couple have until now both denied any knowledge of their daughter’s killing.
Henry Riding for the prosecution said Mrs Ahmed’s new defence statement describes how she came downstairs at around 9.30pm on 11 September to discover Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, punching the teenager with a clenched fist.
It alleges Mr Ahmed was "very angry" and was hitting and slapping Shafilea around the face. When she attempted to end the violence Mrs Ahmed was told to “shut up”. In her statement she claims she was pushed away and “punched with a clenched fist”.
Mrs Ahmed also alleges their other daughter Mevish was present and witnessed what happened – contradicting previous evidence. She said she was “scared” and "anticipated" that she could also be harmed by her husband, deciding to take Mevish upstairs and stay with the other children in a bedroom, it was claimed.
When she went back downstairs 20 minutes later Shafilea and her husband were gone, Mr Riding said.
When he returned she claims she asked him where Shafilea was. He replied: "If you care for your dear life and that of your children don't ever ask me this question again,” the court heard.
Mrs Ahmed now alleges she asked the same question of her husband "one or two days later",
Mr Riding said she claims he responded saying: "I have already told you once before, I don't know where she is. I have also told you not to ask me that question again."
She also alleges that her husband told her that if she spoke to anyone or told anyone anything that he would "do the same to our other children and to you".
The statement concludes with Mrs Ahmed saying she believed her husband had taken Shafilea "somewhere" and that "she was safe".
The prosecution claims Shafilea repeatedly clashed with her parents over her Westernised lifestyle. The court heard she became seriously ill after drinking bleach during a family trip to Pakistan.
She disappeared in September 2003 on hr retrun to Britain and her body was found on the bank of the River Kent in Cumbria the following February.
Earlier in the trial the jury heard claims by the Ahmed’s other daughter Alesha that she witnessed her parents pushing her older sister onto a settee and suffocating her. She claimed her mother said “just finish it here”.
In other evidence Mevish Ahmed told the court that letters given to a friend in 2008 in which she apparently described the fatal attack were works of fiction.
The trial was adjourned until Wednesday when the prosecution case will conclude.