A man accused of murdering his girlfriend and concealing her body in a suitcase before dumping it in a ditch has denied the charge.
Muhammad Arslan, of Ilford in east London, is charged with the murder of Hina Bashir, 21, whose body was discovered in a ditch in Folkes Lane, Upminster, in the early hours of July 17.
The alleged murderer, a 26-year-old woman, pleaded not guilty today to the murder of an international student and perverting the course of justice by concealing her body between July 10 and July 18.
Arslan, a Pakistani national, appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Belmarsh prison, aided by an interpreter.
The court heard he had been in the UK five months when he allegedly murdered Ms Bashir – who was from the same village as him in Pakistan.
Ms Bashir was studying business at Queen Mary University in Ilford after moving from Pakistan on a student visa.
The court heard that at the end of her shift working for a part-time security company on July 11, she went to Arslan’s home in Ilford with a friend and was never seen alive again.
Her father had contacted her boss at Queen Mary University, where she worked part-time for a security firm. When Ms Bashir’s employer visited her home after she failed to show up for work, the alarm was raised.
On July 17, her decomposing body was found in a foetal position inside a large suitcase dumped in a ditch in Folkes Lane, Upminster, east London.
Police officers using a sniffer dog made the discovery after following tracks on a grassy verge consistent with suitcase wheels.
Ms Bashir is a Pakistani national who had come to live in the UK in November 2021.
She had travelled on a student visa to study business management at Coventry University London.
She had been in a relationship with Arslan who came from the same village in Pakistan and had moved to Britain around six months before, the court previously heard.
On July 18, Arslan, who lived in a multi-family home, was charged with Ms Bashir’s murder between July 10 and July 13.
Judge Mark Dennis QC remanded the defendant in custody until his trial in July during a hearing at London’s Old Bailey.
Scotland Yard had earlier this year appealed for witnesses to come forward and assist with the investigation into Ms Bashir’s death.
‘My thoughts are with Hina’s family, who have suffered a terrible loss,’ said Detective Chief Inspector Dave Whellams. We will offer them whatever assistance we can.
‘We are continuing our work to develop a full understanding of what happened to Hina, not just in recent days but in the weeks prior to this terrible incident.
‘I know that Hina hadn’t been in the UK for too long. I would urge anyone who may have known her to come forward. Any information that you hold could be important to the investigation.’
Arslan will return to court on June 5 next year for a three-week trial.