LAHORE Pakistan (Reuters) - The family of a pregnant Pakistani woman who was bludgeoned to death in broad daylight this week 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. [ID:nL6N0OG2M5]
In a dark twist, Iqbal has also 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 brutality of the case, and the fact that it happened in broad daylight outside one of Pakistan’s top courts drew international condemnation, including from the United Nations.
Many conservative families in Pakistan consider it shameful for a woman to fall in love and choose her own husband. Refusal to accept arranged marriages frequently results in “honor killings”.
In 2013, 869 such cases 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