LAHORE, Pakistan — The family of a pregnant Pakistani woman who was bludgeoned to death in broad daylight accused her husband of killing her, in stark contrast to his version of a story that has shocked people around the world.
Police and witnesses said Farzana Iqbal, 25, was killed by assailants, including her father, outside a court building in this eastern city Tuesday because she had married a man of her own choosing, Muhammed Iqbal, instead of a cousin her family had selected for her.
But Saturday, Farzana’s elder sister said it was Muhammed Iqbal who had killed her.
“Muhammed Iqbal and his accomplices killed Farzana, and her father and the rest of her family were wrongly accused of murder,” Khalida Bibi told reporters here.
“I was present at the scene and when she came out of the lawyer’s chamber, and as soon as she saw us standing on the other side of the road, she rushed toward us. Iqbal and his accomplices chased her and hit her with bricks,” the sister said.
The family had challenged Farzana’s marriage and filed an abduction case against her husband.
Muhammed Iqbal says he and Farzana married for love in January. On Friday, he told Reuters that he and his wife were attacked by her family outside the High Court in Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan.
Iqbal dismissed the elder sister’s accusations.
“It’s all rubbish and a bundle of lies,” he said. “She wants to hold me responsible for her sister’s murder, which was committed by her own father, brothers and other family members.”
In a dark twist, the husband has admitted that he killed his first wife in a dispute over Farzana in 2009. He avoided a prison sentence, however.
Khalida Bibi said she had spent 13 days with Farzana last month in a women’s shelter where she said her sister was hiding from her husband.
“She told me that Iqbal had kidnapped her and forced her into marriage,” Khalida Bibi said. “She feared that Iqbal might kill her like his previous wife, Ayesha.”
Police have arrested five people, including Farzana’s father.
The fact that the killing occurred in broad daylight outside one of Pakistan’s top courts drew more attention to the case than is usual in most “honor killings,” which are common in a country where many conservative families consider it shameful for a woman to fall in love and choose her own husband.
In 2013, 869 such killings were reported in the news media, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. But the true figure is thought to be much higher, because many cases go unreported.