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Thursday, April 30, 1998 Published at 13:24 GMT 14:24 UK


UK

Arsenic killer loses appeal

Supporters of Zoora Shah campaigning outside the Court of Appeal

A woman has lost an appeal against her conviction for the murder of a businessman who allegedly subjected her to years of abuse.

Despite a long campaign to free Zoora Shah, a high court judge dismissed her application for leave to appeal against the life sentence she received in 1993.


[ image: Shah says she was a victim of abuse]
Shah says she was a victim of abuse
The mother-of three from Bradford, who had been abandoned by her husband, was jailed for 20 years at Leeds Crown Court for poisoning 47-year-old Mohammed Azam with arsenic.

The prosecution claimed she killed Mr Azam, brother of Sher Azam, a former president of the Bradford Council for Mosques, out of greed so she could take over his house.

At her trial, the first in Britain for 23 years to involve arsenic, Shah pleaded not guilty. She claimed in her defence that Mr Azam had subjected her to years of physical and sexual abuse.

After the hearing Zoora Shah's 24-year-old daughter, Naseem, said the family felt "total devastation" at the outcome.


Hannana Siddiqui explains why she is angry at the judgment (2'11")
The women's campaigning group, Southall Black Sisters, which has fought for Zoora Shah's release, said the judgment was a set-back for all women who suffer domestic violence whatever their racial and cultural origins.


[ image: Hannana Siddiqui will continue freedom fight]
Hannana Siddiqui will continue freedom fight
Group spokesman Hannana Siddiqui said: "We're appalled and very angry with this judgement and we think it's a travesty of justice. It hasn't recognised Zoora's experiences of sexual violence."

Ms Siddiqui said Shah was too frightened to talk about her alleged experiences at the time of the trial.

"She was frightened for her daughters because the man she killed was part of the criminal underworld, but also it was far too shameful for her to talk about a history of sexual abuse," she added.



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