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4 get lifers for killing Pak-origin woman

Four have been sentenced to life for killing Pak-origin Yasmin Akhtar in yet another instance of "honour killing" in Britain.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2004 16:44 IST

000A 35-year-old Pakistani-born Yasmin Akhtar has been a victim of a so-called "honour killing", ruled a London court. Four men, allegedly hired hit men, murdered her because she wanted a £250,000 divorce settlement for her multi-millionaire husband.

She was allegedly strangled with parcel tape by the gang, that included her stepson. Her body was then soaked in petrol, wrapped in a carpet and set alight. She had recently been divorced from 67-year-old Mohammad Jamil, who owns properties across London estimated to be worth £3 million.

The two had had an arranged marriage in Pakistan in 1998 and thereafter, moved to London in 1999. The Old Bailey was told that Yasmin Akhtar was quite often beaten by male members of the family and suffered serious injuries. Once her eardrum got perforated.

Tired of the ill-treatment she moved to a women's refuge home in the summer of 2000 but was later allotted a council flat. Later, the same year in November, the marriage was dissolved. The police were content that her family did not know her whereabouts.

But next year, in September, she told the Surrey police she was being followed. It appears that a letter that her solicitors sent to Jamil early last year saying Yasmin wanted £250,000 settlement triggered the plan to murder her.

Just days later, on March 4, she was allegedly forced out of her flat when petrol was poured through the letter-box and threats were made to set it on fire. She had fled out but was apparently caught and bundled into a waiting car. It was alleged that she was taken to one of her former husband's shops, where the police believe she was strangled after she refused to drop the divorce.

The gang had then dumped her burning corpse in a park in Clapham, south London. But, the killers were traced by matching mobile phone records, vehicle checks and DNA analysis of a matchstick found outside the flat.

The court found Rupert Alleyne, David Quarry, Paul Bush and Akhtar's stepson Fethaullah Mohammad, 42, guilty of kidnap and murder and jailed for life. It is said that the three killers were each paid £10,000.

Nine officers of the Surrey police also received a mixture of formal warning and operational advice over the way they handled Yasmin Akhtar's case.

First Published: Jan 16, 2004 16:44 IST