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Sister of slain Pakistani woman says her husband killed her

Source: Reuters - Sun, 1 Jun 2014 13:44 GMT
Author: Reuters
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Mansoor-ur-Rehman Afridi, the lawyer for Khalida Bibi who is sister of the late Farzana Iqbal, holds a picture which according to Bibi is of Farzana's first marriage with her cousin Mazhar Iqbal, during a news conference in Lahore, Pakistan, May 31, 2014.REUTERS/Mani Rana
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* Woman beaten to death outside Lahore court

* Her father arrested, suspected of "honour killing"

* Husband denies family's accusation he killed her

* At least 869 honour killings in Pakistan last year 

By Mubasher Bukhari

LAHORE, Pakistan, June 1 (Reuters) - The family of a pregnant Pakistani woman who was bludgeoned to death in broad daylight accused her husband of killing her, in stark contrast to his version of a story that has shocked people around the world.

Police and witnesses said Farzana Iqbal, 25, was murdered by assailants including her own father outside a court building on Tuesday because she had married a man of her own choosing, Muhammed Iqbal, instead of a cousin they had selected for her.

But on Saturday, Farzana's elder sister said it was Iqbal who had killed her.

"Muhammed Iqbal and his accomplices killed Farzana, and her father and the rest of her family were wrongly accused of murder," Khalida Bibi told reporters in the city of Lahore.

"I was present at the scene and when she came out of the lawyer's chamber and as soon as she saw us standing on the other side of the road, she rushed towards us. Iqbal and his accomplices chased her and hit her with bricks."

Iqbal says they married for love in January. On Friday, he told Reuters that he and his wife were attacked by her family outside the High Court in Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital.

Iqbal dismissed her accusations.

"It's all rubbish and a bundle of lies," he told Reuters. "She wants to hold me responsible for her sister's murder which was committed by her own father, brothers and other family members."

In a dark twist, Iqbal has admitted that he had killed his first wife in a dispute over Farzana in 2009.

Khalida Bibi said she had spent 13 days with Farzana in a women's shelter last month where she said she was hiding from Iqbal.

"She told me that Iqbal had kidnapped her and forced her into marriage," she said. "She feared that Iqbal might kill her like his previous wife, Ayesha."

Police have arrested five people including Farzana's father.

The fact that the murder happened in broad daylight outside one of Pakistan's top courts drew more attention to the case than is usual in most "honour killings" which are uncommon in a country where many conservative families consider it shameful for a woman to fall in love and choose her own husband.

In 2013, 869 such killings were reported in the media, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and the true figure is probably higher since many cases go unreported. (Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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