Honour killing story

Saman Abbas
born: 2003
strangled: April 30, 2021
Residence: Novellara, Italy
Origin: Pakistan
Children: none
Perpetrators: father Shabbar Abbas (aged 46 at the time of the crime), mother Nazia Shaheen (47), uncle Hasnain Danish (33), cousins Nomanulhaq (33) and Ejaz Ikram (28)
The 18-year-old Pakistani Saman Abbas has been missing since May 1, 2021. On footage from a surveillance camera, she was last seen at a farm near the town of Region Amilia in central Italy, where her 46-year-old father Shabbar worked. Police say Shabbar conspired with Saman's mother Nazia Shaheen (47), uncle Hasnain Danish (33), cousins Nomanulhaq (33) and Ejaz Ikram (28) to kill her and bury the body in the field.

One arrest has taken place. Ikram Ijaz was arrested on May 29 in Nimes, France, on a European arrest warrant, and he was handed over to Italy by French authorities on June 9.

Camera footage released by Italian authorities, from April 29, a day before the murder, shows Ikram Ijaz, his uncle Danish Hasnain and Saman's other cousin Nomanulhaq going to the fields with shovels, crowbar and bucket, presumably to dig a grave.

Hasnain, who is believed to be the mastermind of this murder, and Nomanulhaq are still on the run and the police are looking for them. According to the police, Hasnain and Nomanulhaq are also probably somewhere in Europe, but their exact whereabouts are still unknown. Meanwhile, Saman Abbas' parents have fled to Pakistan.

The police revealed that the case goes back to last year, when the family tried to force Saman into an arranged marriage with her cousin in Pakistan. She fled her home after getting into a fight with her parents before that.

Since October 2020, Saman stayed in a refugee camp under the protection of civil society organizations. However, on April 11, 2021, Saman returned home, back to her parents. Authorities assumed that she had been persuaded by her parents to return home.

In the meantime, her family began making preparations for her murder on April 26, 2021. Police in Italy recovered surveillance footage from April 29, the day before authorities believe she was murdered, which they say shows three suspects walking into the field near Saman's house around 7:30 p.m. with shovels, a crowbar and a blue bag. The three suspects were Hasnain, Nomanulhaq and Ijaz, police said.

The three were captured again on the surveillance camera two hours later as they returned home.

The next day, Saman allegedly overheard a conversation between her family and told her friend that they were plotting to kill her. Saman had reportedly instructed her boyfriend to contact the police within two days if she did not send him a message.

Saman's boyfriend told the Italian newspaper Gazzetta di Reggio Emiliano that Saman texted him that she had heard her uncle say that "murder is the only solution for girls who disobey Pakistan's strict codes of honor."

Other CCTV footage, which police have not made public, shows Saman's parents, Shabbar and Nazia, taking their daughter to the fields behind the farm at nine minutes after midnight on May 1.

Even after 13 minutes, the couple returned, with father Shabbar carrying a backpack that Saman had carried earlier. Saman was reportedly handed over to her uncle Hasnain and cousins Nomanulhaq and Ijaz, who were waiting in the field. They allegedly then killed her and buried her body somewhere in the field, police said.

Shabbas and Nazia then left for Pakistan, reportedly to visit a sick cousin, while Ijaz went to Europe. Hasnain returned home and stayed with Saman's 16-year-old brother.

When police went to Saman's house to look for her, they found Uncle Hasnain and Saman's brother in the house. The police detained the brother and let the uncle go. During interrogation, Saman's brother told of his suspicions that Hasnain had orchestrated his sister's murder with the help of his family and cousins.

The boy claimed that the entire family was afraid of Hasnain, who he said strangled his sister resulting in her death. He claimed to have heard the argument on the night his sister disappeared. Based on the teenager's testimony, Italian police have now issued arrest warrants against the family on suspicion of premeditated murder.

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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