Banaz Mahmod 'honour' killing cousins jailed for life

image captionThe pair became the first suspects ever to be extradited to Britain from Iraq

Two cousins who murdered a relative because her family disapproved of her boyfriend have been jailed for life.

Banaz Mahmod, 20, an Iraqi Kurd from Mitcham, south London, was strangled in January 2006 and her body buried in a suitcase in Handsworth, Birmingham.

Mohammed Saleh Ali and Omar Hussain, both 28, received minimum jail terms of 22 and 21 years respectively.

The victim's father Mahmod Mahmod and uncle Ari Mahmod were jailed for life her murder in 2007.

Ali and Hussain - who were also found guilty of burying Miss Mahmod's body, conspiring to kidnap her boyfriend Rahmat Sulemani and threatening to kill him - fled to Iraq after the murder.

But the pair became the first suspects ever to be extradited to Britain from Iraq after Metropolitan Police detectives tracked them down.

Judge Brian Barker, the Common Serjeant of London, told them: "This was a barbaric and callous crime.

"To restore the so-called family honour, it was decided by her father and uncle that she should die and her memory be erased."

He told Ali and Hussain: "You were willing and active participants in what was an agonising death and a deliberately disrespectful disposal.

"You are hard and callous men who were quite prepared to assist others in killing in the so-called name of honour and who placed respect from the community above life, tolerance and understanding."

In a letter handed to police weeks before she died, Miss Mahmod had named Hussain and Ali as men "ready and willing to do the job of killing me".

The pair carried out the murder with a third man, Mohammad Hama, on behalf of Miss Mahmod's father and uncle.

Miss Mahmod was seen by her father and uncle to have brought shame on her family after she left her violent husband and later began a relationship with Mr Sulemani.

Victor Temple QC, prosecuting, said: "It was a cold-blooded and callously executed murder."

Ali and Hussain were among a group of young men who were willing to do the uncle's bidding, Mr Temple said.

Dismissed as fantasy

Miss Mahmod had learned of the plot after a phone call by her uncle to her mother, and told police she feared for her life in December 2005.

But when the officer she sent the letter to called her, Miss Mahmod said she did not want any further action to be taken but that it should be recorded "in case anything happened to her".

On New Year's Eve 2006 her father took her to her grandmother's house and tried to make her drink a bottle of brandy but, realising he was going to try to kill her, she smashed a window and escaped.

In hospital, she recorded her fears on video - later used to convict her murderers.

image captionAri and Mahmod Mahmod were jailed for life in July 2007

But the officer who interviewed Miss Mahmod about what happened dismissed her account as fantasy and wanted to charge her with criminal damage for breaking the window.

On 24 January 2006, Miss Mahmod's parents left the family home and her mother said she had gone by the time they returned later that morning.

The judge paid tribute to Mr Sulemani, who is now under witness protection and had "put himself at considerable risk" to return to give evidence in the case for a second time.

Ari Mahmod and Mahmod Mahmod were jailed for life, with minimum terms of 23 and 20 years respectively, for arranging the killing.

Hama was also given a life sentence, with a minimum 17-year tariff.

Sardar Mahmood, 27, of Messenger Road, Smethwick, West Midlands, was on Wednesday found not guilty of kidnap, making threats and perverting the course of justice and was discharged.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission report in April 2008 found Miss Mahmod had been let down by police.

Police said similar cases would be handled differently.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said: "This has been a truly shocking case and it's been extremely important that justice has been seen to be done over the appalling murder of Banaz Mahmod.

"Today's conviction sends out the key message that so-called 'honour' killings will not be tolerated either in Britain or in countries like Iraq."

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