LONDON – The father and uncle of a woman who was brutally murdered for falling in love with the wrong man were sentenced to life in prison Friday for ordering the killing.
The 2006 murder of 20-year-old Banaz Mahmod, 20, who was strangled after two hours of torture and sexual abuse, was the latest in an increasing trend of so-called "honor killings" in Britain, home to some 1.8 million Muslims.
Mahmod was a member of an Iraqi Kurd family that had emigrated to Britain in 1998.
Her father, Mahmod Mahmod, and uncle Ari Mahmod, were found guilty of ordering the killing. A third man, Mohamad Hama, who had pleaded guilty to taking part in the killing, was sentenced to at least 17 years in prison.
Mahmod's family accused her of shaming them by ending an abusive arranged marriage, becoming too Westernized and falling in love with a man who did not come from their village. The elder Mahmods ordered the killing after discovering she was having a relationship with an Iranian Kurd.
"This was a barbaric and callous crime," said Judge Brian Barker. "You are hard and unswerving men to whom apparently the respect from the community is more important that your own flesh and blood."
The court had heard evidence from her boyfriend, Rahmat Sulemani, and her sister, Bekhal, who fled the family in fear of her own life.
During the trial, the jury was told how the victim's attempts to get help were dismissed by police.
She first went to police in December 2005 when she suspected her uncle was trying to kill her and her boyfriend. She sent the police a letter naming the men who she thought would later kill her.
On Dec. 31 2005, she was lured by her father to her grandmother's home, where her father forced her to gulp down brandy and approached her in a menacing manner. She escaped by breaking a window, and was treated at a hospital.
One policer officer, who now faces investigation, considered arresting Banaz Mahmod for damaging her grandmother's window.
Sulemani recorded video testimony at the hospital in which Banaz Mahmod said she was "really scared." This was later played in court.
After leaving the hospital, she tried to convince her family that the relationship was over, but the couple were spotted together.
The killing occurred several days later, and her body was disposed of in a suitcase.