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Couple in Italy sentenced to life for killing daughter

AFP
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Couple in Italy sentenced to life for killing daughter
A statue representing Justice outside a court in Milan. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

A Pakistani couple was sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court on Tuesday for the murder of their daughter in 2021 after she refused an arranged marriage.

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Saman Abbas, 18, was living in Novellara near Bologna when she disappeared in May 2021, having rejected the previous year her family's demand that she marry a cousin in Pakistan.

A tribunal in Reggio Emilia in central Italy ruled that the parents ordered the murder, and that an uncle had strangled his niece.

The uncle was sentenced to 14 years after accepting a plea bargain, while two cousins were acquitted in an affair which shocked the country.

Abbas had denounced her parents to the police and social workers placed her in a shelter in November 2020.

But she visited her family in April 2021, planning to pick up her passport and start a new life with her boyfriend, whom her family disapproved of.

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She disappeared soon after, and police, alerted by the boyfriend, raided the family home in May but the parents had already left for Pakistan.

The young woman was probably killed the night of April 30 to May 1, according to surveillance camera footage showing five people leaving the family home with shovels, crowbars and buckets, before returning two and a half hours later.

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A year later Abbas's body was found in an abandoned farmhouse with a broken neck. Her brother told police that he had overheard his father talking about the murder and that it was the uncle who had killed his sister.

The father, Shabbar Abbas, was arrested in Pakistan and extradited to Italy in August 2023. The uncle, Danish Hasnain, was turned over by French authorities while the cousins were arrested in Spain.

The four men were present at the trial, but the mother, Nazia Shaheen, is still a fugitive.

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