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File:Shafilea Ahmed.jpg

Shafilea Ahmed

Shafilea Iftikhar Ahmed (born 14 July 1986 in Bradford, West Yorkshire - died September 11, 2003) was a British seventeen-year-old from Great Sankey, Warrington, Cheshire, who was murdered in late 2003.

Background

A student who wanted to become a lawyer, Ahmed swallowed bleach during a trip to Pakistan in 2003, in what was later reported to be a suicide attempt. Her father claimed that she drank it during a power cut, thinking it was a bottle of fruit juice. According to a wide range of media reports after her disappearance, Shafilea turned down a suitor in an arranged marriage during the trip, though her parents denied any attempts to pressure her into agreeing to the marriage.

"Police then learned that shortly before her disappearance Shafilea had travelled to Pakistan where she rejected an arranged marriage partner and had swallowed bleach, badly scarring her throat - an injury which required constant medical attention when she returned home."[1]

Shafilea disappeared on September 11, 2003, and had been missing for a week before her teachers informed the police. Subsequently, there was a major campaign to urge people who had any information to come forward. Actress Shobna Gulati was persuaded to front the media campaign, and read some of her poems on television.

"A nationwide hunt was launched but when Shafilea failed to seek treatment for her damaged throat detectives became convinced she had been murdered - possibly in an "honour killing" connected with her rejection of her Pakistani suitor."[2] Det Chief Insp Gerraint Jones stated to The Mirror: "Her family say a suitor had been found for her in Pakistan but she was free to make her own decisions."[3]

In February 2004, Ahmed's corpse was found in the River Kent near Sedgwick, Cumbria, in proximity to Kendal in the Lake District (Template:Convert/mi away from Warrington). After heavy flooding in the area, police said the corpse was deliberately hidden; a gold "zigzag" bracelet and blue topaz ring found with the body were identified by her parents. Due to decomposition, the cause of death could not be determined by the coroner (Home Office pathologist Alison Armer) at post mortem, leaving the Police to believe that it had probably been there since the day she disappeared or not long after. Shafilea's body was also found to have been dismembered (a femur was found). Detective Sergeant Mike Foster stated at a hearing, "The pathologist could not determine the cause of death, but did say the body was that of a young female. Obviously, because of the condition of the body, she was unable to give any further findings."

A second post mortem ordered by South Lakeland Coroner Cyril Prickett was ordered [1], but failed to add anything further.

Inspector Mike Forrester of Cumbria Constabulary at an inquest hearing stated '"It was unclear whether all of Shafilea's body parts had been found."' He went on to state that '"DNA tests on the right thigh bone of the body found on the east bank of the River Kent made it a one in a billion chance that the remains were those of anyone other than Shafilea."' The lower jaw of the body found was also shown to Shafilea's dentist, who said he was 90 per cent sure that it was hers after examining dental work that had been carried out on it. Cited on [2]

Shafilea's parents, Iftikhar Ahmed, a taxi driver, and Farzana Ahmed, were released without charge after briefly having been arrested along with five other members of her extended family.

There were several poems written by Shafilea that interested the police in their investigations, notably the poem I feel trapped. The poem is said to reflect Shafilea's utter despair and emotional state, describing a hopeless life, a family that ignored her, and that she had run away from home several times in the past due to tensions with her family. This was reported and cited from [3] "She has been reported missing twice before and been found staying with friends."

The videos of the poems being read out on here [4]

Neighbour Sheila Costello,was quoted "We heard they had an argument over an arranged marriage and that Shafi had run away. I hope nothing terrible has happened to her." Cited on [5]

The investigation by Cheshire Constabulary into the murder of Shafilea remains ongoing and after three years has not established a suspect, although 8 members of her extended family are awaiting trial for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice[6] in relation to the case. There is still confusion regarding exact events of the trip she made to Pakistan.

Inquest into death

In January 2008, the Coroner's inquest held that Shafilea was the victim of a "very vile murder",[4] having been taken from her home. The verdict was unlawful killing.

The police case remains open and they have "several suspects". Shafilea's family left the inquest without making any comment.

References

External links

See also

  • Honour killing
  • Unsolved murders in the UK
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