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GUJRAT: Police on Wednesday exhumed the body of Sana Cheema, a 26-year-old Italian woman of Pakistani origin, who is feared to have been killed in the name of so-called honour in her native area of Mungowal in Gujrat district.

Dr Komal Ishaq of the Aziz Bhatti Shaheed Teaching Hospital conducted an autopsy on the body, which was exhumed in the presence of area magistrate Lubna Sagheer. Strict security measures were taken in and around the graveyard with a contingent of the Gujrat police deployed at the site.

Dr Ishaq collected samples from the stomach and other tissues to be sent for testing to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) in Lahore to help the police investigators ascertain the cause of death.

DSP Saddar Irfanul Haq Sulehria told Dawn that they would try to get the test results at the earliest because of the sensitive nature of the case. He added that the outcome of the investigation depended on the forensic report, which usually took several weeks to compile because of the large number of cases the PFSA had to deal with.

The initial investigation had raised doubts over the version provided by the victim’s family, which had claimed that she had died of natural causes, the DSP said, adding that a case had been registered against her father, brother and a paternal uncle under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) of the Pakistan Penal Code, on a report filed by the Kunjah police SHO.

According to sources, the police have already taken the suspects into custody, but their arrests have not been confirmed as they are currently being interrogated.

Relatives of the deceased woman said her family had been settled in Italy for nearly 17 years, and she lived in Brescia city where she worked as a translator at a driving school.

She had arrived in Pakistan in January and, since, had been living with her parents at her native village where she died or was killed on April 18. She was buried the same night.

Her death had sparked outrage among various circles in Brescia, as the Italian media reported that Ms Cheema had wanted to marry an Italian man. A group of Pakistani immigrants in Brescia had also held a protest against the news report, demanding that the newspaper bring forward the man she was alleged to have been romantically involved with. Her family had apparently handed over to the police a medical prescription from a doctor in Mungowal, claiming that she had been ill.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2018