THE sister of Shafilea Ahmed told a jury it was a “relief” to tell police after seven years that her parents had murdered the teenager.
Alesha Ahmed was giving evidence at Chester Crown Court yesterday where her parents, Iftikhar and Farzana, are accused of murdering 17-year-old Shafilea at the family home in September 2003.
The teenager’s decomposed remains were discovered in Cumbria in February 2004 but it was not until 2010 that Alesha provided the “final piece of the puzzle” about her death, the court has heard.
Mr and Mrs Ahmed, of Warrington, Cheshire, deny murder.
Their 23-year-old daughter claimed she witnessed the murder to her solicitor and a police officer while she was in custody after arranging a robbery at the family home.
Questioned by Andrew Edis QC, for the prosecution, about why she made the claim after all these years, Ms Ahmed said: “It all got too much, and to be honest I think it was a relief more than anything to be able to tell someone finally.”
Asked why she had kept quiet for all those years, she replied: “I think it was not until I went to uni I saw how wrong family life was.
“When you get used to something, it becomes normal and that’s when I saw it wasn’t normal, really.
“I think what happened to my sister was wrong but because it’s your parents you think it’s normal because you still love them.
“I think at uni I did feel the way my sister had – you want to fit in with everyone else but you are still being forced to live in a different way.
“I think that’s what made me crack.”
Ms Ahmed, who gave evidence from behind a screen, said she had been in a state of “emotional distress” when she made the witness statement about the alleged murder.
She said: “I just had to let it out. It has been haunting me for a long time.”
She told the court she had been living “like a Western student” while at university and returning to her parents’ home at weekends and during holidays.
During this time, her relationship with her parents had been “strained,” she said.
“I felt I was going down the same path that my sister was going down.”
She said she “wasn’t thinking properly” when she arranged for the robbery to take place.
The jury were told the incident, on August 25, 2010, saw three or four masked men burst into the house and search for money as Ms Ahmed, her mother, brother and sisters were inside.
She told the court she was arrested after her mother and brother told police the thieves had known her name.
On Wednesday, Ms Ahmed described how her parents pushed Shafilea on to the settee in their house as they forced a plastic bag into the teenager’s mouth and suffocated her in front of their other children.
The prosecution alleges they murdered their “Westernised” daughter because her refusal of an arranged marriage was bringing shame on the family.
The case continues.