Leeds & West Yorkshire

Samia Shahid 'honour killing' death: Cleric 'threat' claims over marriage

Samia Shahid Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Samia Shahid, 28, from Bradford, died while visiting relatives in Pandori in Northern Punjab

A cleric who conducted an Islamic marriage ceremony involving an alleged honour killing victim claims he was threatened by a member of her family.

Samia Shahid, 28, from Bradford, was strangled last month in Northern Punjab, police in Pakistan said.

Cleric Syed Sibtami Kazmi said he was "threatened" after Ms Shahid's second marriage in September 2014.

Her second husband Syed Mukhtar Kazim believes she was killed because her family disapproved of their marriage.

Ms Shahid's family claims she died from natural causes.

'Forced marriage'

Mr Kazmi, a prayer leader at Anjuman-e-Haideria, a Shia mosque in Bradford, said Ms Shahid approached him in May 2014 seeking an Islamic divorce from her first husband, Choudhry Muhammad Shakeel.

"She told me under oath that her first marriage was a forced marriage, which happened without her free will as she was pressurised into the marriage by her family," he said.

She was accompanied by two witnesses who signed her divorce papers.

Image copyright Geo TV
Image caption Prayer leader Syed Sibtami Kazmi said he recorded the threats and reported them to police

Mr Kazmi said after writing to her first husband, who declined to give his version of events, he declared the marriage void.

He also performed the religious ceremony for Ms Shahid to marry her second husband.

Ms Shahid converted to her new husband's Shia denomination of Islam prior to her second marriage, although her family are Sunni.

'Pay a high price'

The cleric said that once the Shahid family became aware of the marriage they contacted him for clarification.

He said he expressed ignorance so as not to compromise Ms Shahid's safety and, some months later, he received a threatening call from a family member.

Mr Kazmi quoted an unnamed member of her family as saying: "(Ms Shahid) is missing from home and you know where she is. The issue will be resolved but you will have to pay a high price for your role."

The cleric said: "I recorded all these threats and handed them over to police without any delay."

Image copyright family handout
Image caption Samia Shahid with husband Syed Mukhtar Kazam

He said on the basis of his complaint the police spoke to the family and officers had given him safety advice.

The prayer leader said he initially went to the police station to lodge his complaint and police visited him later.

"It was a long process which continued from two to three months," he said, adding that apart from these two visits there were numerous contacts on telephone and text messages.

Mr Kazim confirmed to the BBC he was aware of Mr Kazmi's claim and that both he and his wife had also been threatened by a member of Ms Shahid's family around the same time.

Ms Shahid's family could not be contacted for comment, but have previously said she died of a heart attack.

Image caption Syed Mukhtar Kazim said he asked his wife not to stay in Pakistan

West Yorkshire Police said it was reviewing the case.

"Her death remains a matter for the Pakistani authorities and we are continuing to liaise with them and with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office," the force said.

Post-mortem tests revealed her death was a result of strangulation.

No arrests have been made but Ms Shahid's father and a cousin known as Mobeen have both been interviewed by officers.

Mr Shakeel, who was previously reported to be on the run, is in Pakistan on pre-arrest bail order, which means police know his whereabouts, but cannot arrest, or demand to interview him, until the order expires on Saturday.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites