Saturday, June 12, 2021

Italy: Anatomy of an "Honor Killing"

Italian police search farmland around Abbas family home. Inset: Saman Abbas

Italy is still reeling over the apparent murder of an 18-year-old Pakistani girl at the hands of her family because she was Westernized and refused to marry a cousin in Pakistan in an arranged marriage.

Saman Abbas had been at odds with her parents, identified as Shabbar Abbas and Nazia Shaheen, over the issue, and at one point months ago, had sought shelter from social services. She spent four months in a protective home but recently returned back home. By some accounts, she was attempting to retrieve her passport. 

At any rate, almost a month ago, Saman disappeared from the family home, located on a farm in the province of Reggio Emilia. At the same time, her family also left the home. The parents flew to Pakistan, while her 16-year-old brother, an uncle, and 2 cousins also left the area. Picked up at the French border, the younger brother has reportedly implicated the uncle, identified as Hasnain Danish (33) as the killer. Danish reportedly convinced the parents that an honor killing was the only solution to the problem with Saman.

In addition, surveillance cameras at the farm have captured images of three men and Saman walking from the farmhouse to the nearby fields. The men are captured returning, but Saman is not seen again. The previous evening, three men, one with a shovel, are captured by the camera walking to the fields. The theory is that the men dug a hole the night before, and then took Saman to the field the following evening where Danish reportedly strangled Saman then buried her in the pre-dug hole. Police are now extensively searching the large area of farmland.

The Italian news media has contacted the father, Shabbar, by phone in Pakistan. He denies any killing and insists his daughter is alive and well in Belgium. The police are certain that Saman is not in Belgium, but has been killed.

In addition to the parents, Danish and the previously-mentioned cousins, Nomanulhaq Nomanulhaq (33) and Ijaz Ikram (28) are identified as suspects. Ikram was arrested in France and returned to Italy where he is now in custody while Nomanulhaq is believed to still be in Europe.

The below news report for RAI 1, Porta a Porta, dated June 9, is in the progress of being translated.

*Update: Here it is:



From Il Giornale (June 12) an update on the status of Ikram in custody. Translated by Fousesquawk.

Saman's cousin knows everything and remains silent: "I will talk in the future..."

In jail, Ikram Ijaz is not responding to gip: Nothing to do with the end of my cousin"

(gip- preliminary investigation judge)

12 June 2021 0:600

by Nino Materi

After so many hours spent with his two lawyers to "fine-tune the defense strategy", here is the result: " I avail myself of the right not to respond." Ikram Ijaz, 28, cousin of Saman Abbas, yesterday, passed the  translated sentence to the interpreter who relayed it to gip and to the prosecutor who are investigating the disappearance of the 18-year-old Pakistani, killed by a family conspiracy and made to disappear who knows where.  For about one and a half months, her cadaver has been searched for in the fields around the agriculture business, "Le Valli" at Novellara (Reggio-Emilia) where the Abbas family lived and where the young girl was seen for the last time April 29. 

Yesterday was supposed to be the day of truth; it was, instead, the day of silence. The 28-year-old is accused of premeditated homicide (with others) and hiding a cadaver together with the uncle, Danish Hasnain (suspected of having materially strangled Saman), along with another cousin, Nomanulhaq Nomanulhaq, and the parents of the victim: the father, Shabbar Abbas and the mother, Nazia Shaheen. All four are fugitives. (The parents have fled to Pakistan, the other two are in flight in Europe.) Ikram Ijaz, the only one of those charged in jail, is one of the three who, on April 30 was captured by a security telecamera as they walked away from the Abbas farmhouse carrying a shovel, crowbar, bucket, and plastic bags. The prosecutorial hypothesis is that the three (Ijaz, the other cousin, and the uncle) were going to bury the remains of Saman. A reconstruction of which Ijaz yesterday laconically distanced himself saying that (he) "had nothing to do with Saman's disappearance". But then what was he doing in that film? Why did he then flee to France? Two key questions that Ijaz would have been able to answer dispelling any doubt about his involvement in a crime hatched by the same parents of Saman to punish the daughter, "guilty" of not having accepted an "arranged marriage" and of not comporting herself as a "good Muslim". Instead, Ijaz-arrested May 29 in France and extradited to Italy last week- in the face-to-face with the investigators in the Reggio Emilia jail, did not respond to the questions while pointing out that he was "willing to cooperate". His lawyers note: " He has shown the intention of making more in-depth statements to the prosecutor in the coming days". Then why not begin doing so immediately? The dilatory technique is a classic (technique) of the defense to understand what the prosecution has in hand: Taking time (stalling) is considered by defendants as an almost obligatory strategy. Still, in this case, the evidentiary picture is quite defined, and to crystalize it completely, only the discovery of the body of Saman is missing. ( But that is not a small detail.). But this sentence, terrible, spoken by one of the charged- "We have done a good work (job)"- is there to demonstrate how difficult it will be to recover the remains of the girl. Up to now, cadaver dogs and georadar have not obtained the hoped-for result. It is not excluded that the cadaver could have been dissected in several parts and hidden in various places.

Meanwhile, the lawyers of the only charged person in jail (the parents of Saman have fled to Pakistan, while the uncle and the other cousin of the victim are fugitives in another country) maintain that their client "does not understand Italian well," and therefore, for this reason, the time of "cooperation" risks "becoming longer". The feeling instead is that Ijaz knows a lot-if not everything-of the sad fate of Saman. But that he has decided, at least for now, to keep his mouth shut. Perhaps, because of fear of revenge. Perhaps, because he wants "guarantees". Or perhaps, more simply, because he has no conscience.

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