Despite an alleged confession, the father, brother and uncle of a Pakistani woman living in Italy were acquitted Friday by a Pakistani court of her death in a suspected “honor killing,” according to reports.
Sana Cheema, 26, reportedly expressed a desire to marry a man of her choice in Italy, which infuriated members of her family who wanted to marry her off to their relative, ARY News, a Pakistani news channel reported.
Her father, Ghulam Mustafa Cheema, brother Adnan Cheema and uncle Mazhar Cheema were accused of strangling her in April 2018.
They were acquitted for lack of evidence, the station reported.
The BBC reported that police obtained a confession in the case that was later retracted.
Cheema was reportedly brought back to Pakistan from Italy for an arranged marriage but refused, according to the BBC. A friend also alleged that her family opposed her plans to marry a Pakistani-Italian man in Italy.
She was buried without an autopsy after her family blamed natural causes for her death.
But the case drew global attention when Italian social media and newspapers reported her death as a suspected honor killing, the BBC reported.
After an outcry, investigators exhumed her body and determined she had been strangled.
"What a shame! If this is 'Islamic justice' there it's scary,” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini tweeted after the verdict, according to the BBC. “A prayer for Sana."