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Body near riverbank identified as Shafilea's

After a DNA test cops have confirmed the body of the young woman, found washed up on a riverbank three weeks ago is that of Shafilea Ahmed.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2004 15:40 IST
UK Bureau

The police have, after a DNA test, confirmed that the body of the young woman, found washed up on a riverbank three weeks ago is that of the 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed who lived with her parents in Warrington but was not seen since September.

She had disappeared shortly after refusing to marry a Pak-based groom chosen by her parents. Detectives believe that she was dead even before her body was found in the river Kent at Sedgwick, near Kendal in Cumbria.

Police are now treating her death as murder and have not ruled out the possibilty that she was a victim of the so-called honour killing. There have been 11 reported cases of honour killings in 2003.

The police suspected immediately after the discovery of the body that it could be of Shafilea. Jewelery found next to the badly decomposed body was said to be very similar to that worn by her when she disappeared. The detectives asked her parents to identify the items that were found.

The police had initially interrogated her parents on suspicion of "honour killing" but nothing could be proved. A post-mortem on the corpse had been inconclusive.

Ahmed was a bright A-level student. Her friends described her as brilliant and exceptionally bright. She was alleged to have drunk bleach causing serious internal injuries, after the row over marraige and was later treated for her injuries.

But, when she went missing, her parents did not inform the police. Her teachers alerted the Yard when she did not go to the school for eight days.

Her parents, Iftikhar, 44 and mother Farzana, 41, were arrested last December but released on police bail. They admitted she was missing but said they presumed she had gone to stay with friends.

The investigating officer had said last November that although the parents maintained that Shafilea was free to make up her mind about the marriage, he would be investigating the circumstances in relation to the marriage in Pakistan, the marriage proposal and events leading up to the trip to the country. She had been, it was said, taken to Pakistan and asked to marry a person chosen by her parents.

The police had launched a massive hunt for her. The actress Shobhna Gulati in the popular TV serial Coronation Street, had read out heart-rending lyrics written by Shafilea and found in her bedroom in an attempt to trace her.

She had written: "I was like a normal teenage kid, didn't ask 2 much. I just wanted to fit in, but my culture was different. Now I'm sitting here playing happy families still crying tears… I wish my parents would be proud of wot I have done but instead it's ' you have brought us shame'."

First Published: Feb 26, 2004 15:40 IST