Pakistani police exhumed the body of a 26-year-old Pakistani-Italian woman who was killed allegedly by her father and brother in the name of so-called honour in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
Ghulam Mustafa along with his brother Mazhar Iqbal and son Adnan Mustafa allegedly killed Sana Cheema after they failed to persuade her not to marry an Italian man. The incident took place in Kunja, Gujrat, some 150-km from Lahore, on April 18.
“The body of Cheema was exhumed in the presence of a woman judge and samples have been sent for forensic text in Lahore,” Kunja police station official Waqar Ahmad said.
He said the “real cause” of her death will be known after her autopsy.
Police initiated the probe after reports published in Italian media that Cheema was killed by her family members over the marriage issue, Ahmad said.
Cheema’s family declared her death “accidental” and buried her in a graveyard far from their residence, raising suspicion.
On police’s application a sessions judge allowed to exhume Cheema’s body.To a question about arresting the suspects, Ahmad said: “We have not taken the three suspects into custody as we do not have any evidence against them as yet. However, we have told them not to leave their residence till the investigation is finalised.”
He said the Cheema family claims that “she fell ill and died within few days despite receiving medical treatment”.
Reportedly, Cheema was taken to a hospital in Gujrat on April 11 seeking treatment for blood pressure and stomach ache. The police received doctor’s prescription along with hospital and medical store bills. The grave-digger who buried Cheema’s body has reportedly said that the relatives of the deceased were in a hurry to bury her as they brought two labourers with them to expedite burial.
According to reports, Cheema had been living in Italy since 2002 and was to return to Italy on April 19 but she was killed a day prior to her return. She wanted to marry an Italian man and had turned down proposals from within her family. She came to Pakistan some two months ago.
Cheema was working as a driving instructor in Italy.
The Italian foreign ministry said it is keeping an eye on the case.
“We are determined to reach the bottom of the case and are in contact with the Pakistani authorities in this matter,” the ministry said.
There has been demonstrations in Milan by the Pakistani community demanding justice for Cheema.
In 2016, the death of 28-year-old British national Samia Shahid and the shocking murder of social media star Qandeel Baloch by her brother had turned the spotlight on the so-called honour killings in Pakistan, sparking a fresh push to close loopholes allowing the killers to walk free.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, as many as 50 honour killing cases have been recorded in the country till April 1 this year, while 460 such killings came to light in 2017.
Around 1,000 women are killed in Pakistan every year in the name of honour. PTI