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Shafilea Ahmed's parents sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder

03/08/2012

The parents of Shafilea Ahmed have been sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder.

Following the verdicts Helen Morris, Crown Advocate from CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: "In 2005 the Crown Prosecution Service considered a file of evidence presented by Cheshire Police following an investigation into the death of Shafilea Ahmed. The decision was that the evidence fell just short of that required to mount a prosecution.

"It was clear then that what was required was for a member of the Ahmed family to break ranks and tell the truth about what had happened to Shafilea. As you know, that happened in 2010 when Alesha Ahmed, Shafilea's younger sister, gave her statement describing the violent death of Shafilea at the hands of the defendants. The conviciton's are a testament to her courage and fortitude over the last two years.

"Alesha's disclosures were a turning point in the investigation and the message that comes out of the case is this: the Crown Prosecution Service has recently been commended for its efforts resulting in an increase in the number of convictions in cases of violence against women and girls. There are many possible descriptions that can be applied to Shafilea's predicament, child abuse, domestic violence and honour based violence being just three. However you choose to characterise it, we as a prosecution service are committed to convicting perpetrators such as the Ahmeds.

"To do that we need witnesses to come forward. Such violence by its nature happens behind closed doors. We need courageous victims and other family members to break ranks and come forward and give evidence as did Alesha Ahmed. And if you do come forward this case has shown that the Criminal Justice System will not let you down.

"The word 'shame' has been heard many times during the course of this trial and in at lease three languages. The evidence has shown that cultural factors were at the heart of the Ahmeds' abuse of Shafilea. Why did they abuse Shafilea? Why did they kill her? Put simply, it was because she challenged their regime and refused to conform to their expectations. She wanted to choose how she lived her life and who she married, choices that are fundamental freedoms for any citizen of the United Kingdom.

"Despite the best efforts of the defendants to derail the investigation into her death by subverting witnesses including their own children, Cheshire Police has worked tirelessly for nearly nine years gathering evidence and the convistions are a tribute to their efforts. I also give heartfelt thanks to Andrew Edis QC and Henry Riding Junior Counsel for presenting that evidence to the jury in such a compelling way and to the jury for the diligent attention they gave to the trial over 11 weeks.

"Violence against women and girls occurs in all communities and the causes may vary. Whatever those causes we remain committed to vigorous prosecution of those responsible. Sadly today in this country there will be other victims suffering abuse as Shafilea did, and my final words to those victims and to members of their family who are witnesses to that suffering are this: remember Shafilea Ahmed; follow the courageous example of Alesha Ahmed; come forward; contact the police; make a statement; put your faith in the criminal justice system; make sure Shafilea Ahmed did not die in vain."

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