MONS, Belgium: A Pakistani family of four went on trial on Monday for the “honour killing” of their 20-year-old child and sister, who defied them by living with a Belgian and refusing an arranged marriage.
Sadia Sheikh, a Belgian law student of Pakistani origin, was shot dead by three bullets allegedly fired by her older brother Mudusar on October 22, 2007, when visiting her family in the hopes of patching up their quarrel.
Her parents and sister are accused of aiding and abetting the killing.
The four face sentences of life imprisonment if found guilty by a jury of five women and seven men at a high-profile trial also involving rights groups pleading for gender equality as part of a civil suit at the hearings.
The trial is expected to last three to four weeks.
Sadia Sheikh left the family home to study after her shopkeeper parents tried to arrange a marriage with a cousin living in Pakistan she had never met.
Before moving in with a Belgian man her age named Jean, she was helped by fellow-students and teachers and also spent some time in a centre for victims of domestic violence, where she drew up a will as she felt threatened.
She had nonetheless agreed to visit the family in hopes of making peace the day she was shot.
Her father Tarik Mahmood Sheikh, 61, mother Zahida Parveen Sariya, 59, and sister Sariya, 22, also facing charges of “attempting to arrange a marriage,” have denied involvement in the murder, saying Mudusar, now aged 27, killed his sister in a fit of anger.