A BELGIAN court has sentenced four members of a Pakistani family to prison for the murder of their law student daughter and sister in the country’s first “honour killing” trial.
After pronouncing the family members guilty for the shooting death of 20-year-old Sadia Sheikh in October 2007, the jury sentenced father Tarik Mahmood Sheikh to 25 years behind bars, mother Zahida Parveen Sariya to 20 years, brother Mudusar to 15 and sister Sariya to five years, media reported.
Lawyers for the family said brother Mudusar, who confessed to pulling the trigger on the three bullets that killed his sister, was handed a lesser jail term than his parents as they were considered to have ordered the girl’s death.
Sadia Sheikh, who defied the family by living with a Belgian man and refusing an arranged marriage, was shot dead on October 22, 2007.
Mudusar admitted before the jury of five women and seven men to killing his sister, attempting to shield the rest of his family from any blame.
His parents and remaining sister stood accused of aiding and abetting the killing which took place when their victim visited her family in the hopes of patching up their quarrel.
Questioned during Belgium’s first “honour killing” trial in south-western Mons, Mudusar said the killing was premeditated “for a long time.”
The trial also involved rights groups pleading for gender equality as part of a civil suit at the hearings.
Sadia Sheikh left the family home to study after her shopkeeper parents tried to arrange a marriage with a cousin living in Pakistan whom she had never met.
Before moving in with a Belgian man her age named Jean, she was helped by fellow students and teachers and also spent some time in a centre for victims of domestic violence, where she drew up a will as she felt threatened.
She had nonetheless agreed to visit the family hoping to reach some form of reconciliation the day she was shot.
During the trial the brother surprised his own lawyer by suddenly confessing also to the attempted murder of his second sister and fellow defendant Sariya, now 22.
“I left you for dead,” he told his sister beside him in the dock as his parents broke into tears.
On the subject of the honour killing he told the court: “I didn’t want to take her (Sadia’s) life, but to make her feel as bad as I felt.”
His 61-year-old father and 59-year-old mother, as well as sister Sariya, also face charges of “attempting to arrange a marriage.”
They all denied involvement in the murder, saying Mudusar killed his sister in a fit of rage.
Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence for three of the defendants, and between 20 and 30 years behind bars for Sariya.