Parents plead not guilty to suspected honour killing of daughter, 17

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The parents of suspected honour killing victim Shafilea Ahmed pleaded not guilty yesterday to murdering their daughter.

Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed, aged 52 and 49, of Liverpool Road, Warrington, Cheshire, appeared at Manchester Crown Court after they were charged with Shafilea’s murder in September.

Shafilea’s decomposed remains were discovered in Cumbria in February 2004 after she disappeared from the family home in September 2003.

Mr Ahmed, wearing a grey suit, and Mrs Ahmed, wearing a purple head scarf and grey cardigan, sat with an interpreter throughout the hour-long hearing.

The court set a provisional trial date for May 8 at Chester Crown Court.

It is estimated the trial will last between eight and 10 weeks.

At a bail hearing at Manchester Crown Court on September 15, Mr Justice Richard Henriques ruled the press could report that the couple were charged after “a family member” accused them of murdering 17-year-old Shafilea.

Mr and Mrs Ahmed are on bail with a number of conditions.

Shafilea, who was born in Bradford, was most likely strangled or suffocated, a pathologist told her inquest.

South Cumbria coroner Ian Smith later recorded a verdict of unlawful killing.