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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Mother-in-law denies murder plot
Surjit Kaur Athwal
Surjit Athwal travelled to India with her mother-in-law
A 70-year-old grandmother has denied colluding with her son to have his wife killed, in a trial at the Old Bailey.

Bachan Athwal rubbished allegations she and her son Sukhdave Athwal arranged the murder to defend the family honour.

Surjit Athwal, 27, who had been having an affair and had started divorce proceedings, went missing in 1998 after travelling to Punjab with Mrs Athwal.

Mrs Athwal and her son, 43, both from Hayes, west London, deny murder and conspiracy to murder.

Family meeting

Surjit had worked as a customs officer at Heathrow Airport and married her husband, who worked as a driver at the airport, when she was 16.

She travelled to India almost 10 years ago with her mother-in-law where she disappeared. Her body has never been found.

Nothing of the sort took place in our family
Bachan Athwal

Mrs Athwal denied holding a family meeting at which Surjit's murder was planned.

Speaking through a Punjabi interpreter, the mother-of-six and grandmother of 16, said: "I didn't make any plans. Nothing of the sort took place in our family."

She also denied telling other members of the family that Surjit had been killed, claiming she "got on well" with her daughter-in-law.

Mrs Athwal told the court she had never tried to stop her daughter-in-law wearing Western clothes.

"Why should I want to stop her? My daughters all wear Western clothes," she told the jury.

Previously the court heard Mrs Athwal had said she would only allow Surjit to divorce her son "over her dead body".

The trial continues.

Missing wife 'wanted a divorce'
03 May 07 |  London

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