Italian court hands down verdict against Pakistani parents for killing their teenage daughter

Saman Abbas declined the family’s requests to wed a cousin in their home country, as stated in court.

An 18-year-old Pakistani woman’s parents and uncle have been found guilty of her murder in Italy after she rejected their demands to marry a cousin in their homeland.

Saman Abbas’ body was unearthed in November 2022 in an abandoned farmhouse near her father’s workplace in northern Italy, a year and a half after she was last spotted on surveillance video walking nearby with her parents. Prosecutors in Italy argued that her family killed her on May 1, 2021. Shortly after, her parents flew from Milan to Pakistan.

On Tuesday, the parents, Shabbar Abbas and Nazia Shaheen, were sentenced to life imprisonment, while her uncle, Danish Hasnain, received a 14-year prison term from a court in Reggio Emilia. Two cousins were acquitted and ordered to be released from prison.

Shabbar Abbas, who was extradited from Pakistan in August, professed his innocence during an emotional statement to the court prior to deliberations. His wife was tried in absentia and is believed to be in Pakistan.

This trial was the most prominent among numerous criminal investigations in Italy in recent years related to the murder or mistreatment of immigrant women or girls who resisted their family’s insistence to marry someone chosen for them.

An autopsy revealed that the young woman had a fractured neck bone, possibly caused by strangulation. She had immigrated as a teenager from Pakistan to the town of Novellara in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy.

In Italy, she stopped wearing a headscarf and started dating a young man of her own choosing. In one social media post, she and her Pakistani boyfriend were captured kissing on a street in the regional capital, Bologna.

According to Italian investigators, that kiss infuriated Abbas’ parents, who wanted her to marry a cousin in Pakistan.

Abbas had allegedly expressed to her boyfriend that she feared for her life due to her refusal to marry an older man in her home country.

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