South Asia

Arrest in case of Afghan teenager who had face maimed

Aisha, after surgery
Image caption Aisha has been in the US since August, but her father wants her home

The father-in-law of an Afghan teenager whose nose and ears were hacked off after she fled her husband's abusive home is being questioned by police.

Haji Suleman, who was arrested in the Chora district of central Uruzgan province, told the BBC he was innocent.

Aisha was given a prosthetic nose after featuring on a controversial Time magazine cover in July.

The 18-year-old, who was flown to the US in August, said she was mutilated as a punishment for fleeing her husband.

Uruzgan's police chief told the BBC: "I can confirm that we have arrested Aisha's father-in-law, Haji Suleman, in a raid in the Chora district last week.

"We did this after a complaint filed by Mohammadzai [Aisha's father] accusing Haji Suleman for the crime. Haji Suleman is in jail and he is being investigated.''

Mr Suleman told the BBC from his cell in the main jail of the provincial capital, Tarin Kowt, that he had not admitted any crime.

'Blood debt'

"I am innocent," he said. "Aisha's father is accusing me. He had proposed to me to kill her because she had brought shame on him after she fled her house.''

Aisha's father, Mohammadzai, told the BBC he did not trust the local government to prosecute the case, adding that he wanted his daughter returned. The family surname is not known.

"She has been kidnapped by foreigners from my house," said her father. "I want her back. I cannot live in Uruzgan anymore. Once my daughter is back. I will leave and chose to live somewhere else.''

Reports that the Taliban approved the attack have been found to be untrue, said the head of Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission in Uruzgan.

Abdul Ghafar told the BBC: "After a year's investigation, we have found out that the Taliban were not behind this, as reported by the New York Times. This was a case of family violence, not the Taliban.''

Aisha - who was reportedly given away by her family in childhood as a "blood debt" - had her trip to California for reconstructive surgery documented by ABC News.

The front cover of Time magazine generated debate over the headline "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan" and over the use of the photo itself.

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