Father guilty of daughter's "honour killing"

LONDON (Reuters) - A Kurdish man was convicted in a London court on Monday of murdering his 20-year-old daughter in a so-called “honour killing” because she had left her husband and fallen in love with another man.

A combination of undated handout images showing (L) Ari Mahmod and Mahmod Mahmod, released to Reuters on June 11, 2007. Mahmod Mahmod was convicted in a London court on Monday of murdering his 20-year-old daughter in a so-called "honour killing" because she had left her husband and fallen in love with another man. REUTERS/Metropolitan Police/Handout

Banaz Mahmod was garrotted in her home in London, her body was stuffed in a suitcase and taken more than 120 miles to Birmingham, where it was buried in the back garden of a house.

Mahmod Mahmod, 52, ordered his own daughter’s murder with the help of his brother Ari Mahmod, 51, with the killing itself carried out by their associate Mohamad Hama, 30, and two other suspects who are still at large.

Banaz’s body was only found in April 2006, months after she was killed.

“Banaz was a caring, loving young woman with the whole of her life in front of her and that life has been brutally cut short by the very people that should have loved her and protected her,” said Detective Inspector Caroline Goode.

“In any terms, the ultimate betrayal.”

The court had been told that Banaz had been forced to marry an Iraqi Kurd when she was 17 but the relationship collapsed and she returned to live with her parents in 2005, later falling in love with Rahmat Suleimani.

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Her family decided to kill her because they believed the relationship had shamed them as Suleimani was an Iranian Kurd and not a strict Muslim.

“I don’t think I have loved anyone as much as I have loved Banaz,” Suleimani said in a statement.

“She was my first love. She meant the world to me.”

Honour killings were almost unheard of in Britain until a few years ago but police and the Crown Prosecution Service now estimate there are about a dozen such murders a year.

Campaigners say that the issue was misunderstood and that the authorities had been unwilling to get involved in minority community matters for fear of being culturally insensitive.

Indeed, Banaz had contacted police a number of times before her death, saying her life was at risk, but no action was taken.

“Banaz contacted the (police) on a number of occasions and we did take action in all of those cases. Whether those actions were appropriate will be a matter for the Directorate of Professional Standards review,” said Commander Simon Bray.

Hannana Siddiqui of Southall Black Sisters, an organisation experienced in dealing with honour killings, said the authorities were worried about being seen to be heavy handed.

“That’s often been the reason why agencies like the police and social services have not wanted to get involved in cases of abuse within communities because they think it would be culturally insensitive to do so,” she told Reuters.

“What you have got to have is early intervention to prevent murder.”

Mahmod Mahmod, Ari Mahmod and Hama will be sentenced at a later date along with Pshtewan Hama, 26, who admitted perverting the course of justice.

A fifth man, Darbaz Rasull, 24, was cleared of perverting the course of justice.