A Pakistani father has been arrested in the suspected honor killing of his 18-year-old daughter in Italy after she refused an arranged marriage, police said Friday.
Shabbir Abbas was taken into custody in his village in the eastern Punjab province last week after a tip-off by Italian authorities and local police, senior police official Anwar Saeed Kingra said.
The suspect’s daughter, Saman Abbas, was last seen alive in late April by neighbors outside her family’s home in the farm town of Novellara, near the city of Reggio Emilia.
A few days later, a Milan airport video showed Saman’s parents, who had reportedly been pressuring her to marry a man she had never met, catching a flight to Pakistan.
Abbas’ arrest comes just days after a body was discovered in a shallow grave in an abandoned building near the Pakistani family’s home.
Italian media reported that it could take two months to confirm the identity of the remains, but a local court said Thursday it was “highly likely” that the human remains belonged to the missing teen.
During an extradition hearing Thursday, Abbas insisted that his daughter is alive, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. He previously claimed that she had traveled to Belgium.
Amir Shaheen, another senior Pakistani police investigator, said that Saman’s father was being sought by Italian police on a charge of killing his daughter.
He refused to share any further details, saying the suspect was in the custody of the country’s Federal Investigation Agency, which was approached by Interpol to seek the arrest and extradition of the man to Italy in connection with the murder of the woman.
Before her disappearance, the 18-year-old girl told her boyfriend in Italy, who is also of Pakistani descent, that her parents wanted to marry her off to an older man in their homeland but that she was refusing.
After going to authorities, Saman was allowed to stay at a shelter under the protection of the state but later returned home, reportedly after her family sent her text messages begging her to come back, Italian news reports said at the time.
Italy has already arrested Saman’s uncle, Danish Hasnain, who is believed to have strangled her, and two of the teen’s cousins, Ikram Ijaz and Nomanhulaq Nomanhulaq, following their extraditions from France and Spain.
Prosecutors in Italy suspect Saman’s parents, the uncle and the two cousins of taking part in her murder and the disposal of her body.
Three of the suspects were captured on surveillance video on April 29 — the day before police believe Saman was killed — carrying spades, a crowbar and a blue bag.
The next day, Saman was seen on video leaving her house with her parents for the last time.
The girl’s mother, Nazia Shaheen, has not been arrested yet and remains a fugitive in Pakistan after being indicted in absentia.
Hundreds of women are murdered every year in so-called honor killings carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior.
With Post wires