Woman bludgeoned to death 'routine murder'

2014-05-31 19:59
Pakistan policeman. (File, AFP)

Pakistan policeman. (File, AFP)

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Lahore - Pakistani police denied negligence on Saturday over their failure to stop the bludgeoning to death of a woman outside a courthouse, describing it as a simple murder case despite a chorus of global condemnation.

Farzana Parveen died after she was set upon by more than two dozen attackers armed with bricks outside Lahore's High Court on Tuesday, including numerous relatives, for marrying against her family's wishes.

Police were present at the scene but did not stop the mob killing Parveen, who was three months pregnant.

Parveen's father Mohammad Azeem was detained at the scene of the attack. Four others, including an uncle, two of her cousins, and a driver were arrested late Thursday.

Senior officer Zulfiqar Hameed defended his men's actions, saying one had snatched a gun from an attacker, but claimed the mob was too large for police to stop the killing. He also blamed foreign media for their "inaccurate" description of events.

"It is a routine murder case like other murder cases and has to be seen in the context of Pakistani society," Hameed told AFP.

"The foreign media is wrongly describing it as stoning without seeing the background of the two families, which is not good and which resulted in this incident," he added.

Hameed also claimed Parveen's husband Mohammad Iqbal had absconded from justice for four years after murdering his wife, and alleged that Parveen eloped with him despite already being married.

Iqbal - who on Thursday admitted he had strangled his first wife out of love for Parveen - had told AFP he wanted to see her attackers "killed with bricks".

He was spared jail for his first wife's murder because his sons persuaded her family to pardon him under Pakistan's blood-money laws.

These allow a victim's family to forgive the murderer, which makes prosecuting so-called "honour" cases difficult as the killer is usually a relative.

In a further complication to the case, defence lawyer Mansoor Khan Afridi on Saturday claimed Iqbal had abducted Parveen two years ago, when she was already married to her cousin Mazhar Iqbal.

"Mohammad Iqbal developed illicit relations with Farzana and used to visit her when her husband Mazhar Iqbal was not at home," Afridi said. "Later Iqbal kidnapped her."

The lawyer claimed Mohammad Iqbal then obtained another marriage certificate, a crime if Parveen was already married to another man, he said.

Afridi said that cases of abduction and unlawful marriage had already been registered with police.

A Pakistani court extended the custody of Parveen's father on Saturday, giving police seven more days to investigate the crime, senior police official Omer Riaz Cheema told AFP.

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