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Danish court sentences nine Pakistanis

June 29, 2006


COPENHAGEN, June 28: The father of a 19-year-old woman, gunned down two days after her wedding because her Pakistani family disapproved of her choice of husband, was sentenced on Wednesday to life imprisonment — the maximum sentence under Danish law.

The woman’s older brother, who had admitted pulling the trigger, was handed a 16-year prison term. Two uncles who helped the father, Ghulum Abbas, carry out the murder, also were sentenced each to 16 years’ imprisonment.

Judge Michael Lerche told a packed Eastern High Court in Copenhagen that the father got a life sentence because he had masterminded the killing of Ghazala Khan, and ordered his son and other members of the family to track down his daughter and her new husband and kill them. Ghulum Abbas, 57, had denied the charges.

Under Danish law, life imprisonment is automatically commuted to 16 years.

A 12-member jury had on Tuesday returned guilty verdicts against the nine family members and friends for the murder of Ghazala, who was shot and killed on Sept 23 in Slagelse, 100 kilometers west of Copenhagen. Her husband was shot twice in the stomach but survived.

During the trial, Ghazala’s older brother, Akthar Abbas, admitted to shooting the couple as they tried to flee to a train station, but claimed he acted in self-defence because his brother-in-law, Emal Khan, had allegedly kicked him.

The jurors said they found no mitigating circumstances and nothing to indicate self-defence.

Another uncle and an aunt were both given 14 years in jail and, as Pakistani nationals, would be expelled from Denmark after serving their time.

Three family friends, who helped track the newlyweds, were sentences to terms ranging from eight to 10 years.

All but one — one of the uncles — appealed the sentence immediately.

The trial, which began in May, has been widely followed in Danish media and has highlighted disparate views on marriage between some immigrants and Danes in this country of 5.4 million people, including a Muslim community of about 200,000.

At least nine other honour killings are known to have taken place in Denmark since the late 1980s.

The most recent case was in 2002 when 14-year-old Sonya Mohammed, who had allegedly gotten pregnant with a Danish boy, was found drown in a Danish harbour after having been hit in the head. The following year, her father, Ashraf Ahmad Mohammed, was sentenced to 14 years in jail for the murder.—AP