Shafilea judge slams killer parents

A judge who jailed two parents for life for the so-called honour killing of their "Westernised" daughter has said the teenager was "squeezed between two cultures".

Iftikhar Ahmed, 52, and his wife Farzana, 49, were told they would both serve a minimum of 25 years in prison after a jury at Chester Crown Court convicted them of the murder of their 17-year-old daughter Shafilea.

The trial was told they suffocated the teenager with a plastic bag at the family home in Warrington, Cheshire, in September 2003 because they felt her desire to lead a Westernised life was bringing shame on the family.

Trial judge Mr Justice Roderick Evans asked them: "What was it that brought you two, her parents, the people who had given her life, to the point of killing her? You chose to bring up your family in Warrington but, although you lived in Warrington, your social and cultural attitudes were those of rural Pakistan and it was those which you imposed upon your children.

"Shafilea was a determined, able and ambitious girl who wanted to live a life which was normal in the country and in the town in which you had chosen to live and bring up your children. However, you could not tolerate the life that Shafilea wanted to live.

"She was being squeezed between two cultures, the culture and way of life that she saw around her and wanted to embrace, and the culture and way of life you wanted to impose on her."

Mr Justice Evans said on the evening of September 11 2003: "You berated her for her behaviour and in temper and frustration you two suffocated her. It was you, Farzana Ahmed, who said to your husband: 'Finish it here'." Mrs Ahmed cried as she was led from the court while Mr Ahmed shook his head in disbelief. Earlier, the couple showed little reaction when a jury of seven women and five men unanimously found them guilty following 11 hours of deliberations.

Shafilea's decomposed remains were discovered in the River Kent in Cumbria in February 2004. It was not until 2010 that Alesha provided the "final piece of the puzzle" about her death, said the prosecution.

Speaking after the verdicts, Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Ankers, of Cheshire Police, said they would now be "taking stock" of the "fresh evidence" which emerged during the trial.

Speaking after the verdicts, Shafilea's close friend, Melissa Powner, read a statement to the media in which she paid tribute to the teenager and spoke about the pain of having to watch as her killers enjoyed freedom. Miss Powner said: "We have waited for this day for many years. Yet today we heard those important words - words that have finally brought our friend the justice she deserves.""