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Shafilea's parents accuse police of bias

Shafilea Ahmed's parents have accused police of being blinkered by a racial stereotype in taking it up as a case of "honour killing".

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

The parents of the murdered Pak teenager Shafilea Ahmed upstaged the detectives investigating the case when they gatecrashed a televised police briefing in a room in Village Hotel, Warrington. They accused the police of being blinkered by a racial stereotype which dictated that as Asian parents they must have been involved in their daughter's murder.

The parents, Iftikhar Ahmed, 44, and Farzana, 41, flanked by their legal team drove to the hotel in a black Mercedes to tell the police that they were not guilty of the so-called "honour killing".

Detective Chief Inspector Geraint Jones, who is leading the investigation, refused to let the parents sit at a table positioned in front of a police screen and left soon after the surprise arrival of the teenager's parents.

Shafilea's decomposed body was found on the mudbank of river Kent a few days ago. A DNA test confirmed that the body was that of Shafilea's. She had disappeared from her home in Cumbria on September 11. It was said that six months earlier she had been taken to Pakistan where she resisted the overtures of a distant cousin to marry her. While there she had swallowed bleach and had to be treated in hospital.

She went missing after coming home with her mother from school. The parents had not informed the police that she was missing. Worried school teachers had called the police when she did not go to the school for eight days. Cheshire police arrested the parents in December but since then they have been on police bail. Police said they have an open mind and are looking into all aspects including the theory that she was kidnapped and then murdered.

Milton Firman, solicitors of the parents read out a statement after the police left the briefing room. Nothing, he said, could change the cruel reality that the couple had lost a beautiful daughter -- "a reality made all the more painful in view of the unsubstantiated allegations against them".

"Mr and Mrs Ahmed wish to confirm once more that they strenuously deny any direct or indirect involvement in their daughter's untimely demise." Police should, he said, carry on the investigation with the family rather than carry on an inquiry based upon a form of ethnic stereotyping. He added that the parents despised the term honour killing.

The police maintain that now that the body has been found the net is closing on whoever murdered Shafilea. The cause of her death has yet to be confirmed by the pathologist.

First Published: Feb 26, 2004 15:40 IST