She was lying, says accused Shafilea Ahmed father


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A father accused of murdering his “Westernised” daughter told a jury today she was lying when she complained of violence and being forced into marriage.

Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, was giving evidence for a third day at Chester Crown Court where he is accused with his wife Farzana, 49, of killing their daughter Shafilea, 17, in September 2003.

Andrew Edis QC, for the prosecution, read the jury Shafilea's application for emergency accommodation after she ran away from home that February.

Under the heading, "Reasons for leaving home", Shafilea, whose 26th birthday would have taken place tomorrow, said: "Forced into arranged marriage in Pakistan."

Mr Edis said that under the heading "Nature and incidents of violence", Shafilea added: "Regular incidents since I was 15 or 16. One parent would hold me while the other hit me.

"I was prevented from attending college and my part-time job. I'm scared of going back to my parents and frightened enough to flee my home."

Mr Edis said to taxi driver Ahmed: "That's a tissue of lies, according to you, isn't it?"

The defendant said: "Yes."

The barrister continued with Shafilea's statement, in which she said: "There has been a build up to the violence towards me and my mother told me I was about to go to Pakistan for an arranged marriage and my mother had begun to pack.

"My parents had been into school and told my teachers I would be absent and going to Pakistan. My teachers have approached my parents in the past about preventing me from going to school and tried to get social services involved."

Mr Edis said: "Shafilea feared she was going to be married off, that's her perception isn't it?"

Ahmed said: "We had no knowledge of this.

"This paperwork Shafilea filled in, what she's put down was not true."

The barrister went on: "Why would she want alternative accommodation from a loving and caring family home?"

Ahmed replied: "If it was her perception that she was going to be married off, that's her perception.

"If she did mention it (to us) we would have told her there was no such thing and when she did mention it we assured her there was no such thing."

Shafilea's decomposed remains were discovered in Cumbria in February 2004.

Her younger sister Alesha claims the parents pushed Shafilea on to 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.

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

They deny the allegation.

Earlier this week Mrs Ahmed, who has yet to give evidence, changed her defence and gave the jury a new account claiming she witnessed her husband beat Shafilea on the night of the alleged murder.

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

Ahmed was asked why he did not report Shafilea missing to police after she disappeared.

Mr Edis said: "You did not lift a finger because you knew where she was and you knew she was dead."

Ahmed replied: "I'm sorry Mr Edis, I did not know where she was and I did not know she was dead."

The teenager was supposed to attend a hospital appointment the day after she vanished in connection with treatment for drinking bleach in Pakistan on September 12.

Ahmed told the jury he went to the hospital that Friday and asked a nurse if Shafilea had attended.

Mr Edis said that at Shafilea's inquest the father told the coroner he had telephoned the hospital on the Monday.

"Which evidence is true?," Mr Edis asked the defendant.

Ahmed said: "I went to the hospital, if I said I rang, it was a mistake."

The barrister put it to the defendant that he was changing his story while in front of the jury.

Ahmed replied: "I've not changed my story for anybody. I might have just said it off the top of my head, it's not something I intended to lie about."

The barrister went on: "Your daughter Alesha has told this jury that you and your wife murdered Shafilea. Is there any reason that you know of why she might make up something of that kind?"

Ahmed said: "The only reason I can think of is that she was trying to get off the robbery."

He went on to say he did not know why Alesha had "turned against" the family.

Mr Edis suggested Alesha had "escaped" and added: "That is what your daughters have to do, isn't it? Submit, escape or die?"

"That's not true, Mr Edis," Ahmed replied.

"Alesha escaped," the barrister said.

"When she wanted to go to university, we let her go," the defendant responded.

"Mevish submitted," Mr Edis went on.

Ahmed told the court: "Mevish has not submitted. Mevish is doing exactly what she wants to do."

"Shafilea died," Mr Edis said.

"Shafilea has not died because of us," Ahmed replied.

The jury was sent home for the weekend and the trial will resume at 10.30am on Monday.