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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Cousin guilty of bride's murder
Tafarak (left) and Rafaqat Hussain
Tafarak (left) helped Rafaqat Hussain flee to Pakistan
A taxi firm boss has been found guilty of the murder of his 21-year-old cousin who was stabbed 22 times with a kitchen knife on her wedding day.

Tafarak Hussain, of Mead Crescent, Bordesley, Birmingham, was convicted for helping to organise the attack, which happened in Sahjda Bibi's bedroom in Alum Rock, Birmingham on 11 January this year.

His cousin, Rafaqat Hussain, 38, a machine operator from Old Point Close, Camberley, Surrey, had pleaded guilty to murder at an earlier hearing.

Tafarak Hussain, 26, was convicted by the jury at Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday on the basis that the killing could not have happened without him and that he helped to organise Rafaqat Hussain's escape.

Airport getaway

The court had heard how Rafaqat Hussain travelled from his work in Camberley, Surrey, to Birmingham on 10 January, where the wedding was due to take place the following day.

The jury was told that the cousins met the next morning and began finalising details of the killing.

Sahjda's death has been called an honour killing, but I can see no honour in killing another human being
Detective Inspector Adrian Atherley

Tafarak Hussain then drove his cousin to the house where the celebrations were expected to start, the court heard.

"In a few moments what, in other circumstances, might have been a very happy day was shattered in a most brutal fashion," Timothy Raggatt QC told the jury.

The court heard that the final stages of the attack were witnessed by the bride's mother.

Tafarak Hussain then helped his cousin to escape to Pakistan by driving him away from the murder scene and arranging for a taxi driver to ferry him to Heathrow Airport.

Family applaud verdict

It was said in court that the men were unhappy their cousin, a dressmaker, was marrying Zaffar Mughal, who was not a blood relative.

Tafarak Hussain showed no emotion as the jury foreman returned the panel's 10-2 majority verdict.

After remanding him in custody, the judge, Mr Justice Wakerley, addressed members of the victim's family in the public gallery, telling them: "To those who grieve, the loss of Sahjda, this court extends its sympathy."

Sahjda Bibi
Police believe the men did not approve of Sahjda Bibi's wedding plans
In a statement released by West Midlands Police, Sahjda Bibi's parents said: "There is no justification for attacking a member of our family, a girl of 21-years-old.

"It was a cowardly act by Rafaqat and Tafarak on a defenceless and harmless young girl on her wedding day.

"We want to thank the police and the prosecution for bringing them to justice."

The family added: "We feel that they should spend the rest of their days behind bars so they cannot do this to anyone else, and to serve as a warning to others who might think of committing such a crime."

Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Adrian Atherley, of West Midlands Police, said: "Sahjda's death has been called an honour killing, but I can see no honour in killing another human being.

Sahjda Bibi's home in Wright Road, Alum Rock, Birmingham
The 21-year-old was stabbed in the bedroom of her Birmingham home
"In this case the victim was a relative of the killer and she seemed to have trusted him."

A West Midlands Police spokesman added: "The death has been called an honour killing - when a person is murdered because they have 'brought dishonour' upon their family.

"In Sahjda's case it seems she had simply fallen in love with the wrong man.

"Rafaqat appears to have been unable to accept this union and took it upon himself to prevent it taking place - at any cost."

Despite pleading guilty to murder at a hearing in September, Rafaqat Hussain told officers his cousin's death was an accident and has offered no other explanation for the killing.

The cousins, who both face mandatory life sentences, will be sentenced by Mr Justice Wakerley on Monday.

The BBC's Peter Lane
"Detectives say it's possible the men thought the groom would bring dishonour on the family"

Bride's snub led to murder
15 Oct 03  |  West Midlands
Cousin accused of bride murder
06 Oct 03  |  West Midlands
Arrest over bride-to-be murder
18 Mar 03  |  England
Man charged over bride death
20 Jan 03  |  England

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