Honour killing story

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Ibtihal Al Z.
Born: 1988
Shot dead: 31 August 2008
Residence: Iserlohn/Schwerte
Origin: Victim: Lebanon; Perpetrator: Syria
Children: none
Perpetrators: her uncle Hussain (at the time of the crime 48 years old, Finnish citizen) and her cousin Ezzedin A. (Syrian, 20 years old)
Ibtihal is a stateless Kurdish woman from Lebanon. She was born in Bochum and has five or six siblings. She is 20 years old, completed her high school with a diploma and is doing an internship in a kindergarten to begin training as a kindergarten teacher. Since about the beginning of 2006, she has been in a relationship with Eyüp, a Turk who is seven years older.

Maybe the fathers of the two decide to marry Ibtihal and Eyüp according to Islamic law.

But Eyüp impregnates a 16-year-old Turkish girl from the Frankfurt area in late 2006. The girl's family reports him for rape, but at the same time demands that he marry her to restore family honor.

But Eyüp prefers to stay with his partner Ibtihal (or Iptihal, Iptehal).

On February 2, 2007, Ekrem and Murat, brother and cousin of the 16-year-old girl, drive to Dortmund to put pressure on the father of the still unborn child. He must leave Ibtihal and marry their sister and niece respectively. Eyüb and Ibtihal are forced at gunpoint to go with them in the car. Possibly they are driven to his parents' house to get permission for the divorce and new marriage (not entirely clear in the news reports).

Later there will be a trial on the matter. Ibtihal testifies under oath. Three days later, she is dead. Therefore, suspicion initially falls on the Turks involved in the kidnapping.

But then the following emerges. At the time of the murder, Ibtihal is already staying in a women's shelter in Iserlohn, presumably because her brothers are terrorizing her because of her Western lifestyle. On the evening before the fasting month of Ramadan, she visits her mother and siblings in Schwerte. Her cell phone goes off between 10 and 11 p.m., after which she leaves in a hurry (according to her mother Aziza).

The next morning Ibtihal is found shot dead in the parking lot of a gas station on the A 45 near Lüdenscheid. Investigations revealed that her cousin Ezzedin was holding her by the legs and that her uncle Hussain shot her. The latter has a Finnish passport for some unknown reason. He comes to Germany specifically for the crime. Afterwards, he disappears. The nephew is in custody and silent.

In the indictment of the prosecution in May 2009, the motive for the crime is the restoration of family honor (and not, as initially assumed, the liquidation of a witness). In January 2010, Ezzedin was sentenced to 14 years in prison for murder. The verdict states that a family tribunal had decided to kill the young woman because her Western lifestyle was not in line with the family's values. The second perpetrator remains at large.

A note to researchers of honor killings: because of the basic motives, the juvenile justice system was not applied, as is usually the case in such cases. Presumably, the son was selected by the family as the perpetrator because, with the act 20 years old, he would have fallen under the juvenile justice system by choice. That he was nevertheless not sentenced to life imprisonment, according to the justification of the sentence, was due to the fact that the young man "could be reintegrated into society" and that he had made the "slightest contribution to the crime."

Another detail: After the announcement of the verdict, the family revolted in court. As is usual in such cases, they mourned not the death of their daughter, but the young man who would have to go to prison. Ibtihal's mother later changes her last name and now lives by the name of the fugitive uncle, her daughter's suspected killer.

In 2012, the fugitive uncle is arrested at the Finnish-Russian border and extradited to Germany in November. The mother and another uncle were also arrested. In early 2013, another nephew who claimed to have fired the shots turned himself in. In the meantime, he was 20, thus a minor at the time of the crime. In March 2013, the trial begins at the Hagen District Court. The charge is committing murder in a group.

In July, the verdict is also handed down for the other family members: the "Finnish" uncle must serve life in prison, the victim's 16-year-old brother 6.5 years. The mother must pay a fine for lying in court, but otherwise goes free. The other uncle is also acquitted. Again, riots break out in court, this time between hostile branches of the clan. In May 2014, the Federal Supreme Court upholds the verdict.

What is an honour killing?

An honour killing is a murder in the name of honour. If a brother murders his sister to restore family honour, it is an honour killing. According to activists, the most common reasons for honour killings are as the victim:

Questions about honour killings

  • refuses to cooperate in an arranged marriage.

  • wants to end the relationship.

  • was the victim of rape or sexual assault.

  • was accused of having a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

Human rights activists believe that 100,000 honour killings are carried out every year, most of which are not reported to the authorities and some are even deliberately covered up by the authorities themselves, for example because the perpetrators are good friends with local policemen, officials or politicians. Violence against girls and women remains a serious problem in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Serbia and Turkey.

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