Belgium’s first “honour killing” trial opened on a note of high drama on Monday when a young Pakistani man suddenly confessed to the murder of one sister and the attempted murder of another.
Mudusar Sheikh, 27, is standing trial along with his parents and younger sister for the murder of his sister, Sadia Sheikh.
The law student, who defied the family by living with a Belgian and refusing an arranged marriage, was shot dead by three bullets allegedly fired by Mudusar on October 22, 2007.
Her parents and sister are accused of aiding and abetting the killing which took place when the student visited her family in the hopes of patching up their quarrel.
Mudusar has admitted to killing his sister while saying the rest of the family was not to blame.
Questioned by the presiding judge at the jury trial, he surprised his own lawyer by suddenly confessing to the attempted murder of his second sister, Sariya, now 22 and on trial herself in the case.
“I am confronted by two acts, one that succeeded — that eradicated a person, Sadia — and one that failed, on my sister Sariya,” who was wounded by a bullet to the arm in the 2007 shooting.
“I want to tell my family this,” he went on. “I wanted to kill Sariya. I don’t dare look you in the eye.”
“I left you for dead,” he added to his sister beside him in the dock as his parents broke into tears.
The accused said he would have “a lot of things to explain” during the high-profile trial, expected to last three to four weeks.
The family of four face sentences of life imprisonment if found guilty by a jury of five women and seven men at a trial also involving rights groups pleading for gender equality as part of a civil suit at the hearings.
Sadia Sheikh left the family home to study after her parents tried to arrange a marriage with a cousin living in Pakistan she had never met.
Before moving in with a Belgian man her age named Jean, she was helped by fellow-students and teachers and also spent some time in a centre for victims of domestic violence, where she drew up a will as she felt threatened.
She had nonetheless agreed to visit the family in hopes of making peace the day she was shot.
Her father Tarik Mahmood Sheikh, 61, mother Zahida Parveen Sariya, 59, and sister Sariya, also facing charges of “attempting to arrange a marriage,” have denied involvement in the murder, saying Mudusar killed his sister in a fit of rage.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2011.
More in WorldAIG Takeover: US sued for $25 billion