Pakistani human rights activists hold placards during a protest in Islamabad on May 29, 2014 against the killing of a pregnant woman Farzana Parveen. – AFP Photo
LAHORE: The husband of a pregnant Pakistani woman bludgeoned to death outside Lahore High Court (LHC) murdered his first wife, he told AFP on Thursday, in a twist to a story that has shocked rights activists.
Farzana Parveen was murdered on Tuesday outside the LHC by more than two dozen attackers, including her brother and father, for marrying against her family's wishes.
The brazen, brutal nature of the killing, in broad daylight in the centre of Pakistan's second largest city, has triggered outrage around the world.
Now Parveen's husband Mohammad Iqbal, 45, has admitted killing his first wife.
“I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love,” adding that he had strangled her.
Iqbal said he was spared a prison term because his son – who alerted police to the murder – later forgave him under Pakistan's controversial blood-money laws.
After admitting to the murder he switched off his phone and did not respond to further calls.
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Rights groups have expressed fears the same blood-money laws that spared Iqbal could be used to pardon Parveen's killers.
Zulfiqar Hameed, a senior police officer investigating the killing of Parveen, said police would be filing a report to the government later on tonight detailing Iqbal's past.
“Iqbal was a notorious character and he had murdered his first wife six years ago. A police case was lodged against him and he was on the run for many weeks,” Hameed said.
“He was arrested and later released after a compromise with his family.”
According to Iqbal, a farmer from the Jaranwala district of Punjab, Parveen's family had initially agreed to their marriage but they had later fallen out because they wanted a greater amount in dowry.
Last year 869 women died in so-called “honour killings” according to the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
Britain condemns ‘barbaric’ murder
Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the “barbaric” murder, urging the Pakistani government to fully investigate the killing of Parveen and stamp out the practice of killings to defend family “honour”.
“I am shocked and appalled by the death of Farzana Parveen: both for the appalling manner of her death, and the unspeakable cruelty and injustice of murdering a woman for exercising her basic right to choose who to love and marry,” Hague said a in a statement.
“There is absolutely no honour in honour killings and I urge the government of Pakistan to do all in its power to eradicate this barbaric practice.”
“I call on the Pakistani authorities to investigate this atrocious murder fully and bring those responsible to justice.”
Hague, who is hosting a global conference on sexual violence against women next month in London, said he hoped the case would spark a “wider debate” on the issue.
US denounces 'heinous' murder
The United States has also condemned the “heinous” killing and called for her murderers to be swiftly tried.
“We strongly condemn the murder of a woman outside the Lahore High Court on Tuesday,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
“We hope the perpetrators are quickly brought to justice in accordance with Pakistan's law,” she told reporters.
Psaki denounced “unjustifiable acts” against women around the world, especially “violence that occurs in the name of tradition and honor, such as so-called honor killings.”
She welcomed statements by Pakistani leaders denouncing Parveen's murder as well as new legislation protecting women's rights in the country.
“We encourage the full implementation of such laws as well as greater public awareness about these laws, especially in Pakistan's rural and tribal areas,” Psaki added.