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Last Updated: Monday, 11 June 2007, 13:40 GMT 14:40 UK
Killed for loving the wrong man
By Claire Marshall
BBC News

Banaz Mahmod

Banaz Mahmod was killed after falling in love with a man her family did not want her to marry.

Her father Mahmod Mahmod, 52, and uncle Ari Mahmod, 50, from Mitcham, London, were convicted of murder on Monday.

Banaz Mahmod was 20 years old, and very much in love, when she was strangled with a bootlace and her body stuffed into a suitcase.

According to the prosecution, Banaz had to pay the "ultimate price" for bringing shame on her Kurdish family.

The court heard that Banaz was murdered at her home in Mitcham in Surrey in January last year.

Four months later, the suitcase containing her body was found buried more than 100 miles (160 km) away, deep beneath the foundations of a house in a Birmingham suburb.

Having left an arranged and unhappy marriage, Banaz had started a relationship with Rhamat Sulemani.

Phone footage

Mr Sulemani, 29, broke down in tears when giving testimony at the trial. He said they had been threatened with death if they carried on seeing each other.

Shown in court was mobile phone footage he had taken of Banaz when she was lying covered in blood in a hospital bed, in what the prosecution alleges was an earlier attempt to murder her.

In Banaz's case, if her boyfriend hadn't reported it, we would never have known that she was missing
Caroline Goode, Chief Investigating Officer

In the grainy recording, she says how fearful she is that father and uncle may be trying to kill her.

The court heard that her father, Mahmod Mahmod and her uncle, Ari Mahmod recruited young men from the Kurdish community to carry out the murder.

According to Victor Temple QC, the family's well-being and standing was at stake. There would be a loss of prestige unless the community saw that they had acted according to the old customs.

Banaz's sister, Bekhal Mahmod, gave evidence in court that their father had also beaten, threatened and called her a whore for becoming too Westernised.

Her uncle had said that she deserved to be "turned to ashes".

Testifying from behind a screen at the Old Bailey, Ms Mahmod said, "I escaped what my sister went through, that's why she's not here".

Jasvinder Sanghera, who runs the Karma Nirvana refuge in Derby, says she is "hugely angry" that Banaz had not been properly assisted by the police when she had gone to them for help.

She called for police officers to be properly trained in matters of honour-based crime.

The Chief Investigating Officer in this case, Caroline Goode, told the BBC: "I do think that we are only scratching the surface of this. One of the difficulties is that these things aren't often reported.

"In Banaz's case, if her boyfriend hadn't reported it, we would never have known that she was missing".


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