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Last Updated: Friday, 11 January 2008, 14:16 GMT
Marriage fear teenager 'murdered'
Shafilea  Ahmed
Shafilea Ahmed's body was found in 2004
A teenage girl who feared a marriage was being arranged by her parents was the victim of a "vile murder", a coroner has said.

The decomposed body of Shafilea Ahmed, 17, was found on a riverbank in February 2004, six months after she went missing from her Warrington home.

South Cumbria coroner Ian Smith ruled Shafilea had been unlawfully killed.

Shafilea's parents and five family members were arrested during the police inquiry but no charges were brought.

After the inquest, Supt Geraint Jones, of Cheshire Police, said it "remains a live murder inquiry".

There is someone out there who knows what happened to Shafilea
Supt Geraint Jones
Cheshire Police

"It will not be closed until the killer or killers have been brought to justice," he said.

Mr Smith said Shafilea was genuinely afraid, rightly or wrongly, that her parents were planning to arrange her marriage.

Delivering the verdict at the inquest in Kendal, he said he was convinced Shafilea was murdered.

The body "had been hidden and she had been taken many miles away from home", he said.

Mr Smith said he believed the concept of an arranged marriage for the Muslim teenager was "central" to the circumstances leading up to her death.

Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed

Earlier in the week-long hearing, community and homelessness workers said the teenager had approached them for help to find accommodation or a place in a refuge in order to escape from her parents.

She had claimed they were forcing her into an arranged marriage, the inquest heard.

She also confided to her friends that her parents had beaten her and taken 2,000 from her bank account.

The inquest heard how the teenager had previously run away from home and that on one occasion her father had turned up at her school and taken her home, forcing a teacher to call the police.

Shafilea went missing on 11 September 2003 shortly after returning from a trip to Pakistan, where it was said she had drunk a quantity of bleach after meeting a possible suitor.

'Active case'

But it was a teacher at her school, Great Sankey High School, who reported her missing seven days later.

Summing up, the coroner said Shafilea had died within a few hours of leaving work on the day she was last seen alive.

He added he was "very confident" she was already dead before her body was dumped on the riverbank.

"I do not believe she escaped and ran away. She was taken," Mr Smith said.

Her body was found in February 2004, but police had to use dental records and jewellery to identify her.

I sincerely hope in the future inquiries will be carried out by the police and they will one day discover who did it
Ian Smith, coroner

A medical expert told the inquest the schoolgirl had either been smothered or strangled.

Police said the continuing investigation could take detectives to Pakistan for further enquires.

Supt Jones said: "There is someone out there who knows what happened to Shafilea, and has not told us. "

Shafilea's parents, Iftikhar and Farzana, were arrested on suspicion of kidnap and five relatives from Bradford were also arrested.

In his summing up at the inquest, Mr Smith said: "I sincerely hope in the future inquiries will be carried out by the police and they will one day discover who did it."

The parents left the inquest without making a comment.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Interview extract with Shafilea's father in 2004



SEE ALSO
Father denies forced wedding plot
10 Jan 08 |  Merseyside
Parents anger over murder probe
18 Feb 05 |  England

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