Kohistan video murders: Three guilty in ‘honour killing’ blood feud

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Three men have been given life sentences in connection with one of Pakistan's most notorious "honour killing" cases.

Omar Khan, Sabeer and Saheer were all relatives of five women who are believed to have been killed after they were filmed singing and clapping at a wedding eight years ago.

Their bodies were never found. Two men they were with are still in hiding.

The alleged killings sparked a blood feud which left another four dead.

Five other men were acquitted by the court in Besham, in north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Why were they killed?

The exact details of what took place are not entirely clear.

A video emerged in 2011 which appeared to show the women – Bazeegha, Sereen Jan, Begum Jan and Amina – at a wedding, singing and clapping. A fifth woman – Shaheen, who was under 18 – is also thought to have been present.

It also showed a man dancing – although they were never in the same shot together. A second man is said to have been filming.

It was enough, in the remote northern Kohistan district where matters of family honour are settled in blood, to warrant the five women's deaths.

According to local custom, male family members of a woman suspected of an out-of-wedlock liaison – even of a seemingly innocuous nature – should first kill the woman, and then go after the man. The family of the man would not oppose this action, correspondents say.

It meant everyone in the video – which was seen as "breaching the honour" of the women's family – was in danger.

How did it come to light?

The wider world learned of the video in 2012 when Afzal Kohistani – brother of the two men involved – broke the code of silence to allege the women had been murdered, in order to save his siblings' lives.

His campaign for justice prompted the Supreme Court to order an investigation into the killings. Investigators trekked for two days to the remote village and were initially presented with three women the locals claimed were those missing. The claims were later dismissed as false.

It took until 2018 for a judge to finally order a court case into their deaths, with the court in Besham finding Bazigha's father Sabeer, Seren Jan's father Saheer and Begum Jan's brother Omar Khan guilty.

Details of the full court judgement are still awaited.

But Afzal Kohistani did not live to see the verdict. His decision to speak out led to three of his other brothers being killRead More – Source