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Shafilea Ahmed's parents guilty of her murder

Shafilea Ahmed was a teenage girl caught between two cultures.

The 17-year-old was a promising student who dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Her parents were from a village in Pakistan and despite two decades in Britain they clung to their traditional beliefs.

It was a clash of cultures that would end in tragedy, ultimately costing Shafilea her life and tearing apart her family.

After a two month trial, a jury at Chester Crown Court decided today that her parents, 52-year-old Iftikhar and 49-year-old Farzana were guilty of murder.

When Shafilea refused to reject the trappings of teenage life in twenty-first century Britain and take a husband they had chosen for her, her parents killed her.

Tensions were already apparent when the family visited relatives in Pakistan in 2003.

The court heard that the Ahmeds hoped the trip would "sort her out".

But when Shafilea learnt that a prospective husband had been selected for her in the village of Uttam, the teenager was horrified.

52-year-old Iftikhar Ahmed pictured in 2004 Credit: Press Association

She swallowed bleach in the a bathroom at the family's compound and badly damaged her throat.

She was too ill to travel home with the family and was left there with one of her sisters. The same sister wrote in a diary that she believed her parents wanted Shafilea to die.

Within months of returning home to Warrington, Shafilea disappeared.

From the outset the police believed that her parents may have been involved. They failed to report her missing; this was done by teachers at school.

It emerged that she had been a frightened girl, desperate to escape the violence at home.

In an application she made to the council asking to be rehoused she said that she was repeatedly beaten, one parent holding her down while the other hit her.

But the police could not find the evidence to charge Iftikhar and Farzana.

Even when human remains were uncovered on the banks of a river in Cumbria and identified as Shafilea, her parents continued to protest their innocence.

49-year-old Farzana Ahmed Credit: Press Association

It was seven years later that their second daughter, Alesha, told detectives that she had seen her parents kill Shafilea at the family home in Liverpool Road, Warrington.

She said that there had been an argument over the clothes Shafilea was wearing and it led to her father punching her repeatedly.

Eventually, she alleged, that her mother had shouted "just finish it" and her father had forced a plastic bag into her mouth, suffocating her.

Two weeks before the end of the trial, Farzana changed her story.

She said that she was also the victim of Iftikhar's violent temper and claimed that she had been too frightened to speak out.

She told the court that she had seen her husband attacking Shaafilea and fled upstairs before she heard a car driving off.

But Iftikhar's first wife, Vivi Andersen, who we tracked down in Copenhagen, painted a very different picture.

She had married Iftikhar when she was 21 and they had a little boy, living together in Denmark for three years.

She told ITV News that Iftikhar embraced western life, that he loved going to discos, drinking beer and being at the centre of the party scene.

Forensic teams in Cumbria Credit: ITV News

She also revealed that there is a tragic irony to the story: Iftikhar himself had been forced to marry Farzana when he returned to Pakistan to visit his sick mother.

Although he had already married her in a Danish civil ceremony, he returned to Europe with a pregnant Farzana.

He told Vivi that he felt trapped into marriage because Farzana, who was his cousin, threatened to kill herself if here refused to go through with the marriage.

Hearing the shocking truth, Vivi left him and has not seen or spoken to him since then.

However, she still finds it very difficult to imagine that the fun loving man, who played so kindly with their little boy, could have turned into the monster who killed his own daughter.

17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed Credit: Cheshire Police

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