The husband of a woman stoned to death in Pakistan killed his first wife four years ago, police and relatives said Thursday, a shocking twist both showing how complicated justice can be and how dangerous life is for women in the country.
A mob of family members, including her father and brothers, beat 25-year-old Farzana Parveen to death Tuesday with bricks stolen from a construction site in the eastern city of Lahore as onlookers stood by, authorities said. Initially after the killing, many in Pakistan offered their condolences to Ms. Parveen’s husband, as the family apparently didn’t want her to marry him.
But Thursday, Zulfiqar Hameed, deputy inspector general for the Punjab police, told the Associated Press that authorities arrested Mr. Iqbal for the October, 2009, killing of his first wife, Ayesha Bibi. Mr. Hameed could not offer details about the slaying, but said the case was withdrawn after a family member forgave him.
Under Pakistani law, those charged with a slaying can see their criminal case dropped if family members of the deceased forgive them or accept so-called “blood money” offerings over the crime.
Reached at his village near the town of Jaranwala, Mr. Iqbal said he could not speak because he was praying at his second wife’s grave. He did not respond to other requests for comment after that. One of his five children, Aurang Zeb, said his father killed his mother in 2009 and over a dispute. He said his father was arrested, but the children later forgave him and the case was withdrawn.
“We don’t want to discuss whatever had happened in the past, but I confirm that we had forgiven our father Iqbal,” Mr. Zeb said, adding that his father was in a state of shock after his second wife’s death.
Agence France-Presse reported that Mr. Iqbal admitted the earlier killing: “I was in love with Farzana and killed my first wife because of this love,” the agency quoted him as saying. After admitting to the murder, AFP reported, Mr. Iqbal switched off his phone and did not respond to further calls.
Pakistan has one of the highest rates of violence against women globally. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a private group, said in a report last month that some 869 women were murdered in 2013 in so-called honour killings – murders killings carried out by relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other behaviour perceived to bring shame upon her family.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned Farzana Parveen’s slaying in a statement Thursday, calling it “intolerable.”
Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, also strongly condemned the slaying, saying she didn’t want to call it an honour killing as “there is not the faintest vestige of honour in killing a woman in this way.”
All the suspects except the Ms. Parveen’s father, who has been detained, have disappeared. The 25-year-old had offended her family by marrying Mr. Iqbal instead of a cousin selected for her.
With reports from Agence France-Presse and Reuters
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