Asia

Pakistan exhumes Italian Sana Cheema's body in 'honour killing' probe

Sana Cheema Image copyright Instagram/Sana_Cheema2014
Image caption Sana Cheema was buried last week without an autopsy

Pakistani police have exhumed the body of an Italian woman amid reports she may may have been murdered by relatives in a so-called honour killing.

Sana Cheema, 26, died while visiting family in Gujrat, and was buried last week without an autopsy.

Her family said she had died of an unspecified illness, but there are allegations she was killed for wanting to marry against her family's will.

Police have lodged a case against her father, brother and uncle.

Pakistani police say they are awaiting results from a post mortem examination to determine whether Ms Cheema was murdered, and whether her relatives should be charged.

Ms Cheema was born in Pakistan, but lived in the northern Italian city of Brescia for most of her life.

Police say Ms Cheema's father, Ghulam Mustafa, wanted her to marry a relative in Pakistan.

However, her friends and members of the Pakistani community in Brescia said that she had wanted to marry a Pakistani-Italian man in Italy, despite opposition from her family.

After she died earlier this month, a campaign to find out the truth about her death went viral on social media.

Human rights groups say so-called honour killings are on the rise in Pakistan. Most victims are women whose families do not want them to interact with men or marry without their permission.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Briton Samia Shahid died while visiting relatives in Pakistan in 2016

Nearly 1,100 women were killed in Pakistan in 2015 by relatives who believed they had dishonoured their families, according to an April 2016 report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

In 2016, Samia Shahid, a British-Pakistani woman from Bradford, died while visiting her relatives in Pakistan.

Initially it was said Ms Shahid had died of a heart attack but a post-mortem examination found she had been strangled.

Her first husband, Chaudhry Muhammad Shakeel, is accused of her murder and is awaiting trial.

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