JHELUM, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani police submitted initial charges to a court Friday against the father and ex-husband of a British-Pakistani woman accused of murdering her in a so-called "honor killing", court officials and a defense lawyer said.
Defense lawyer Mohammad Arif says the trial of Mohammad Shahid and Mohammad Shakeel will begin on September 27 for their alleged role in the murder of 28-year-old Samia Shahid, who was found dead in July at her family's home in Pakistan's Punjab province.
The two accused men appeared before a judge Friday. The woman's family initially claimed she had died of natural causes. But police now say her father stood guard while Shakeel raped her and afterward both men strangled her.
However, the woman's father strongly denied the allegations.
"This is a fake police story and nothing else. I loved my daughter too much and all allegations against me and my son-in-law are a pack of lies," Mohammad Shahid told The Associated Press outside the courtroom. Both he and Shakeel were handcuffed and had their faces covered with cloths.
Arif, who represents both men, told reporters that police during Friday's brief court hearing presented a list of all charges against his clients. He said the court will refer the case to another judge in Jhelum in order to start their trial.
Samia Shahid married her cousin Shakeel in 2012 but later obtained a divorce and eventually married Mukhtar Kazim and moved with him to the United Arab Emirates. After Kazim publicly accused his wife's family of killing her for marrying him against their wishes, police reopened the case and quickly concluded that Shahid had been strangled.
Kazim's lawyer Najful Hussain Shah told the AP that he would seek the death penalty when the trial begins.
Nearly 1,000 women are murdered in Pakistan each year for violating conservative norms on love, marriage and public behavior.