Honour killing father jailed for life

A strict Muslim father who murdered his daughter in an ‘honour killing’ because she brought “shame” on his family by falling in love with the wrong man was jailed for life today.

Mahmod Mahmod was told that he would serve a minimum of 20 years for the murder of Banaz Mahmod. Her uncle, Ari Mahmod, was also jailed for life and told he would serve a minimum of 23 years at the Old Bailey today.

Ms Banaz, 20, had already displeased her family by walking out of an arranged marriage. After she was caught kissing Rahmat Sulemani, an Iranian Kurd, it was decided at a family meeting that they both had to die.

Two months later, Miss Mahmod vanished. None of her family reported her missing.

Only Mr Sulemani went to the police to say that his girlfriend’s worst fears had come true.

Three months later, her naked body was found crammed into a suitcase and dumped in a 6ft makeshift grave below a pile of bin bags, a rusting fridge and a discarded television in a back garden in Birmingham. The bootlace that was used to strangle her was still tied around her neck.

A third killer Mohamad Hama, 30, was told that he would spend at least 17 years behind bars.

He, along with three other men who have left the country, killed her after she was raped and tortured for two hours. Miss Banaz was garrotted for five minutes but took half an hour to die as Hama stamped on her neck to “let her soul out”, the court heard.

Miss Banaz had asked police for help four times but was not taken seriously. She even gave officers a list of five people she suspected would harm her and Mr Sulemani.

After being taken to hospital following a previous attempt on her life, Mr Sulemani recorded her fears on his mobile phone.

The film was played in court and helped convict her killers from beyond the grave.

Sentencing the father and uncle, the Common Serjeant of London, Judge Brian Barker, said: “You are both hard and unswerving men for whom apparent respect from the community is more important than the happiness of your own flesh and blood and for whom killing in the name of honour is to be put above understanding and tolerance.”

He added that the uncle was the “force” behind the “cold blooded” murder which relied on thugs, like Hama and two other men who fled the country, from the Kurdish community to carry out the killing.

He added: “This offence was designed to carry out a wider message to the community and designed to discourage the legal behaviour of girls and women in this country.”

Born in the Kurdish region of Iraq, Miss Mahmod came to England at the age of 10 with her family when they fled Saddam Hussain’s regime.

While her father, who had served in the Iraqi Army, sought the safety of the West, he was determined to preserve the traditions of his Mirawaldy culture.

A father of six and a strict Muslim, he ruled the family home with a rod of iron. When Bekhal, an older sister, wore Western dress her father called her a whore, beat her and demanded that she wear the veil.

She eventually went into foster care and, when old enough, severed all links with the family.

When Banaz Mahmod was 17 she was married to a Kurdish man in the Midlands. Her father decided that it was imperative that the arranged marriage worked because two of his other daughters had ended their marriages.

But the relationship was disastrous. She tried to hang herself and later told police that her husband had raped her. Risking her father’s wrath, she fled her husband and returned to the family home in Mitcham, South London.

She later met Mr Sulemani, an Iranian Kurd, and the pair soon fell in love.

Because Mr Sulemani was not a strict Muslim and not from the Mirawaldy region, Miss Mahmod’s father ruled that she would never marry him. To enforce this point, she was taken to a Kurdish home in Sheffield and beaten for two weeks. On her return, the couple continued to meet in secret.

When Ari Mahmod saw a photograph of them embracing, he contacted a gang of Kurdish thugs and planned the murders. In one bungled attempt on New Year’s Eve, Mahmod Mahmod took his daughter to her grandmother’s home in Wimbledon, plied her with drink and told her to wait for others to arrive. Fearing his motives, she fled.

In January last year, Mohamad Hama, 30, along with other Kurdish men, attempted to bundle Mr Sulemani into a car. As Mr Sulemani escaped, Hama shouted after him: “We are Muslim and Kurdish. We are not like the English where you can be boyfriend and girlfriend.”

But a few days later, Miss Mahmod was dead. The night before her murder, she went to the police but refused the offer of a safe house. Torn between her fears for her life and the belief that her father could not really want her dead, she wrote in her first police statement: “I do not want to leave home or go to a place of safety. I want to stay with my parents.”

Mr Sulemani, who remains under witness protection, continues to mourn the woman whom he planned to marry.

“She was my present, my future, my hope -the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said at the end of the three-month trial. “My life went away when Banaz died. I am heartbroken and falling apart. All the dreams and the hopes are crushed.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday July 20, 2007.
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