NEW YORK: A New York cab driver was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for ordering a double murder in Pakistan after his daughter fled a loveless, arranged marriage.
Mohammad Choudhry, 62, will spend the rest of his life behind bars for conspiring in two deaths carried out nearly 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers) away from his Brooklyn home in 2013, US prosecutors said.
Choudhry was convicted by an American jury of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, making threats and immigration fraud following a nine-day trial last summer.
US prosecutors say Choudhry's American daughter, Amina Ajmal, was sent to Pakistan and held against her will for more than three years on her father's orders and forced into an arranged marriage.
When she escaped and fled home to the United States, with help from the State Department, with the man she loved, Shujat Abbas, her father was furious.
Choudhry and his relatives in Pakistan subjected the Abbas family, who lived in Gujrat, Punjab province, to repeated threats.
On January 26, 2013 Choudhry's brother and other relatives fired gunshots repeatedly at the Abbas parents' car.
Choudhry then telephoned Abbas's father, threatening to kill his entire family unless his daughter returned home.
“If our daughter will not come back to the home, we will kill all five of you. Otherwise, we will find your son and we'll kill him,” US prosecutors quoted him as saying. “This time we shoot on your car. It was threatening, but next time we will shoot in the chest of all five of you.“
Just days after Choudhry made similar threats to his daughter, Abbas's father and 21-year-old sister were shot dead.
Witnesses said Choudhry's brother and other relatives had stood over the victims, holding guns and desecrating the bodies.
The remaining members of the Abbas family then fled to America.
Women are often murdered by their relatives every year in Pakistan by domestic violence or on the grounds of defending family “honour” in cases rarely prosecuted in Pakistan.
Choudhry was sentenced by Judge William Kuntz in the US federal court in Brooklyn.
“There is absolutely no honor in killing innocent victims whose only fault was helping a young woman find freedom in the United States,” said Raymond Parmer of Homeland Security Investigations.