ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani court on Tuesday opened the trial against the father and ex-husband of a British woman over her alleged rape and murder in the name of so-called honor.
The court delivered copies of the charge sheet to father Mohammad Shahid and ex-husband Mohammad Shakeel, defense lawyer Mohammed Arif said.
Shahid and Shakeel are accused of killing Samia Shahid, 28. They must decide by Oct. 7 if they plead guilty or not guilty before Judge Ambreen Qureshi, Arif said. He said both men were present in the court.
After he appeared at a pre-trial hearing last week, father Mohammad Shahid spoke to reporters outside the courtroom denying all charges. "We will contest the case," Arif said Tuesday, suggesting the accused may plead not guilty.
Samia Shahid's family had initially claimed she had died of natural causes during her July trip to Pakistan. But after her second husband Mukhtar Kazim complained to police, they reopened the case.
A police investigation concluded that Shahid's ex-husband raped her as the father stood guard before they both strangled her. It described the killing as "premeditated, cold-blooded murder."
The investigation also implicated the victim's mother, Imtiaz Bibi, and sister, Madiha Shahid, who are British nationals, in the murder. It accused them of luring the victim into the murder plot. It said both women escaped back to England after the murder, and suggested they should be extradited to Pakistan to be tried on abetment charges.
Shahid married her first husband in February 2012 but stayed only briefly in Pakistan before returning to England where she obtained a divorce two years later. After that, she married her second husband, Mukhtar Kazim, and moved with him to Dubai. Her family never accepted the second marriage, because Kazim is a Shiite Muslim and not a relative, the police report said.
Pakistan reports nearly 1,000 "honor killings" every year.