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Pakistani police accused of inaction in woman's stoning death

By Ralph Ellis and Aliza Kassim, CNN
updated 4:40 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chief justice says police will be investigated for inaction in fatal assault
  • Woman's father, two cousins, an uncle and another man arrested
  • Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemns the killing
  • Farzana Parveen, 25, was fatally beaten with bricks

(CNN) -- Pakistani police officers will be investigated because they didn't intervene when a woman was publicly beaten to death with bricks, a court official said Friday.

Pakistani Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, speaking live on state TV Friday, said he's asked the police inspector general to provide a full report on the so-called honor killing of Farzana Parveen, 25, who apparently died because she married a man against her family's wishes.

"I have also ordered that a case be filed against the police officers present at the crime scene," Jillani said, because it appears the "cops helped the criminals by watching the crime as silent spectator."

Authorities said they arrested two of the woman's cousins, an uncle and a driver. Her father was arrested earlier.

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday called the killing "totally unacceptable" and said it's a "great shame" for such a crime to happen in the presence of police.

About 20 people, including members of Parveen's immediate family, attacked her with bricks Tuesday outside a court building in Lahore, police said.

Aamir Jalil Siddique, vice president of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, told CNN, "We believe that this was an oversight on the part of the police -- they were stationed there and did not do anything. We have security, Punjab police officers, at the high court 24 hours a day. The advocate general's office, which is next door to the gate, has additional security."

Such killings not uncommon

Despite the expressions of public outrage, such killings are an ingrained part of Pakistani culture, though they usually happen in rural areas, not large cities such as Lahore. Human rights activists said bystanders, including police, often don't intervene because the killings are considered family matters.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said 869 women were victims last year in the nation of about 180 million people.

These killings are so named because the women are accused of bringing dishonor upon the family such as having an adulterous affair, being raped or wearing clothes consider revealing.

Women's rights advocates say the actual number may be much higher. The United Nations estimates at least 5,000 women worldwide die yearly in such killings.

The prevalence of violence against women in Pakistan became apparent Thursday when Parveen's husband, Mohammad Iqbal, revealed to CNN that he killed his first wife six years ago so he could marry Parveen. His son said Iqbal served a year in jail.

Iqbal, a neighbor of Parveen's family, said he and Parveen were supposed to marry with the family's approval last year. In December, Parveen's mother died, and her father and brothers decided Parveen, who came from a village in Punjab, should instead marry a cousin, police said.

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Bride's family infuriated

Parveen and Iqbal eloped and were married January 7 in a court ceremony. But Iqbal told GEO TV that Parveen's family was infuriated and filed a kidnapping case against him and other members of his family. They also demanded 100,000 rupees (about $1,000), he said.

The couple went into hiding and filed statements in court to prove the kidnapping allegations false, Iqbal said. On Tuesday morning they were scheduled to appear before a judge when Parveen's family allegedly attacked outside the court building.

"We went to the court to seek justice to tell them what had happened. We were sitting there when all of a sudden they appeared," he told GEO TV. "Someone fired shots in the air. My wife and I were sitting and then bricks were thrown, then a lady came and took Farzana away. ..."

Police stood and watched and didn't come to their aid, Iqbal said. He said the crowd killed his wife and her unborn child.

In addition to the prime minister, other officials rushed to denounce the killing.

The chief minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the inspector general to arrest the suspects. He asked that a murder trial be held in an anti-terrorism court.

Britsh Foreign Secretary William Hague said, "There is absolutely no honor in honor killings, and I urge the government of Pakistan to do all in its power to eradicate this barbaric practice."

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CNN's Sophia Saifi reported from Islamabad. CNN's Aliza Kassim reported and wrote in Atlanta, and Ralph Ellis wrote in Atlanta.

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