Honour killing story

Kahwla Mahmoud Al Sammouri
Born: 1980
Murdered: October 15/16, 1997
Residence: Viernheim/Hesse
Origin: Jordan
Children: none, she was only 17 years old
Perpetrators: her father Mahmoud al S. (49 years old at the time of the crime), her brothers Kahled (30 years old) and Walid (28 years old)
Khawla is one of nine children in a Jordanian family. She grows up in Germany and is probably well integrated. Her father Mahmoud promises her to a man in Jordan whom she does not know. Khawla, however, falls in love with an Italian named Raffaele. Reportedly, the two want to get married.

When a (false) rumor spreads that Khawla is pregnant, her father and brothers beat her in Kahled's apartment. The mother urges them to kill her. The brothers take the young woman to the Viernheim forest in her father's car. Kahled chops off her head with an axe. Another 15-year-old brother is supposed to witness the murder. They bury the head and hide the torso in the bushes. Then they report Khawla missing.

The father is believed to have a criminal record for child abuse. Khawla's case is under consideration by the Bureau of Youth Services.

Not until three months later is the body discovered. There may have been an anonymous tip at the end of January 1998. In the meantime, however, the family has fled to Jordan. There is probably also a trial there, which ends in acquittal (allegedly because the identity of the body is not clear). The family then returned to Germany in early 2004. Father and brothers were arrested.

In October 2004, before the Darmstadt Regional Court, the defendants show no remorse and are visibly at ease. The trial is initially aborted when a defense lawyer dies of a heart attack.

An older sister of Khawla is due to testify in early 2005; she is under police protection because of several death threats. Another sister wants to protect the father with her testimony, but becomes embroiled in obvious contradictions.

Father and sons are sentenced to life imprisonment. The mother, who lives in Jordan, is investigated for incitement to murder. She dies in 2014.

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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