Posted on July 20, 2007

‘Honour Killing’ Family Get Life Sentences

London Telegraph, July 20, 2007

Three family members of honour killing victim Banaz Mahmod have been jailed for life at the Old Bailey today.

The 20-year-old’s father, Mahmod Mahmod, 54, was among the three men sentenced, and will have to serve a minimum term of 20 years.

His brother Ari, 51, will serve a minimum of 23 years.

A third killer Mohamad Hama, 30, was told he would spend at least 17 years in prison.

Banaz Mahmod was strangled because her family disapproved of her relationship with her boyfriend.

Hama and three other men who have left the country killed her during two hours of torture at her home.

She was raped and subjected to degrading sex acts before succumbing to an agonising death.

The murder was ordered by her Iraqi Kurd father and uncle after her affair with fellow Kurd Rahmat Sulemani, 29, was discovered.

The Common Serjeant of London, Judge Brian Barker, said: “This was a barbaric and callous crime.

“You are hard and unswerving men to whom apparently the respect from the community is more important that your own flesh and blood.”

He said Ari was the force behind the killing but Mahmod also bore responsibility.

Prosecutor Victor Temple QC told the court Hama confessed to a friend that Miss Mahmod’s ordeal lasted two hours.

She was garrotted for five minutes but took half an hour to die as Hama stamped on her neck to “let her soul out”.

Miss Mahmod realised her life was in danger and even wrote a letter naming those she thought might kill her.

She asked police for help four times but was not taken seriously.

In footage recorded by Mr Sulemani following an earlier attempt on her life by her father in December 2005, she said she was “really scared”.

The film was played in court and helped convict her killers from beyond the grave.

She was urged to stay at a safe house by police but instead told officers she believed she would be all right at home because her mother was there.

Miss Mahmod disappeared the following January and her decomposed body was discovered in Handsworth, Birmingham, three months later.

Five police officers face the threat of disciplinary action as a result of the trial.

Last month Mahmod and Ari, of Mitcham, south London, were found guilty of murder after the jury were told they considered she had shamed the family honour by falling in love with the wrong man.

Hama, 30, of West Norwood, south London, pleaded guilty to murder before the trial.

Mr Sulemani said he had tried to commit suicide on more than one occasion.

He said: “Banaz and I were in love. She was the sweetest person in the world. She was my future.”

Having escaped an attempt to kidnap and kill him, he said he now led a lonely life, not trusting anyone enough to make friends and constantly looking over his shoulder.

[Editor’s Note: The original account carried on AR News can be read here.]

‘Honour’ Gang Laughed as Victim Suffered

Steve Bird, The Sunday Times, July 20 2007

The horrific final hours of a Kurdish woman murdered on the instructions of her father and uncle because she had brought “shame” on her family were revealed to a court yesterday.

A series of secret prison recordings showed that Banaz Mahmod’s killers had laughed as they raped and tortured her, before Mohamad Hama, a hired thug, stamped on her neck while strangling her with a ligature to “force out her soul”.

For two hours Miss Mahmod, 20, endured the ritualistic “honour killing” at the hands of a gang hired by her father, Mahmod Mahmod, 52, and uncle Ari Mahmod, 50. The men, who had fled to Britain from Iraq more than ten years ago, were enraged with Miss Mahmod because she had begun a relationship with someone of whom they did not approve.

In conversations with visitors to Belmarsh prison, Hama, 31, revelled in the sadistic attacks he launched on Miss Mahmod before cramming her body into a suitcase and burying it in Birmingham, 150 miles from her home.

The jury, which convicted Miss Mahmod’s father and uncle of her murder, were never played the tapes because they were thought too explicit and prejudicial.

The gang of at least four men went to her family home in Morden, southwest London, in January last year to kill her. After she disappeared Hama was arrested as a prime suspect and police taped his conversations secretly to try to establish whether Miss Mahmod was dead or alive. The tapes helped officers to discover her body three months later.

The transcripts, read out at a presentence hearing at the Old Bailey, revealed that Hama, who admitted murder, had boasted of how the gang performed a series of degrading and violent sexual acts on Miss Mahmod in the final hours of her life.

He added that it took 30 minutes to strangle her with the bootlace ligature. “The soul wouldn’t leave her body. It took over half an hour. I swear to God, my leg or my foot was on her back. Mohammed [a gang member] made the cord like a hook.” He added that when she vomited the men tried to “shut her up”. “I was kicking and stamping on her neck to get the soul out. I saw her stark naked, only wearing pants and underwear.”

Laughing uncontrollably, he described to one visitor how—after the murder—the killers accompanied the uncle as he carried the suitcase containing the body to a car.

Hama said: “The road was crowded and a police car came by. The handle broke off. I swear to God I was standing there. I almost ran away. We were around him, each side of him, as God is my witness. Her hair was sticking out. Her elbow was sticking out. It was a stupid, silly thing. We put the bag on our shoulders to take it away.”

He went on to boast how he carried out the killing with his “bare hands”. He also claimed that because of the respect the uncle wielded within the Kurdish community, he would serve 100 years in jail before turning him in.

Victor Temple, QC, for the prosecution, said: “None of these defendants in the case have expressed the slightest remorse over what happened to that girl. Uncle Ari wielded very considerable influence within the family and the wider Kurdish community in South London.

“Effectively what occurred was the uncle taking the leading role contacting other younger members of the Kurdish community who would look up to him, respect him and wished to do his bidding. They were only too conscious of what their participation was going to involve—namely cold-blooded murder.”

Hama, from West Norwood, Mahmod, and Ari Mahmod, both from Mitcham, will be sentenced today. At least two of the gang of killers have since fled to Iraq.

During the three-month trial in which the father and uncle were tried for murder, the jury was told that Miss Mahmod had approached police on four separate occasions saying she feared for her life. At one point she gave officers at Mitcham police station a list of five names of those she feared would one day kill her, including the name of Hama. A month before her murder, she told a police officer that her father had plied her with drink before trying to kill her.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation and an internal Metropolitan Police inquiry were set up after the convictions to try to establish why further steps were not taken to save Miss Mahmod’s life. An officer who dealt with the case believed she was seeking attention and was drunk, despite needing treatment for cuts to her wrist.