Police in Italy said Friday that a Pakistani father was arrested in the suspected honor killing of his 18-year-old daughter, Saman Abbas after she refused an arranged marriage.
Shabbir Abbas was apprehended in his village in the eastern Punjab province last week after Italian authorities and local police received a tip, according to senior police official Anwar Saeed Kingra.
Saman Abbas, the suspect’s daughter, was last seen alive by neighbors outside her family’s home in the farm town of Novellara, near Reggio Emilia, in late April.
A few days later, a video from a Milan airport showed Saman’s parents, who had allegedly been pressuring her to marry a man she’d never met, boarding a flight to Pakistan.
Abbas’ arrest comes just days after a body was discovered in a shallow grave in an abandoned building near the Pakistani family’s home.
The identity of the human remains could take two months to confirm, according to Italian media, but a local court said Thursday that it was “highly likely” that they belonged to the missing teen.
During an extradition hearing on Thursday, Abbas insisted that his daughter was alive, according to the Italian news agency ANSA. He had previously claimed that she had visited Belgium.
Another senior Pakistani police investigator, Amir Shaheen, stated that Saman’s father was wanted by Italian authorities on suspicion of murdering his daughter.
He refused to share any further details, saying the suspect was in the custody of the country’s Federal Investigation Agency, which was approached by Interpol to seek the arrest and extradition of the man to Italy in connection with the murder of the woman.
Before she vanished, the 18-year-old girl told her Italian boyfriend, who is also of Pakistani descent, that her parents wanted to marry her off to an older man in their homeland, but she refused.
Saman was allowed to stay at a shelter under the protection of the state after approaching authorities, but she later returned home, reportedly after her family sent her text messages begging her to return, according to Italian news reports at the time.
Italy has already arrested Saman’s uncle, Danish Hasnain, who is believed to have strangled her, and two of the teen’s cousins, Ikram Ijaz and Nomanhulaq Nomanhulaq, following their extraditions from France and Spain.
Prosecutors in Italy suspect Saman’s parents, the uncle and the two cousins of taking part in her murder and the disposal of her body.
Three of the suspects were captured on surveillance video on April 29 — the day before police believe Saman was killed — carrying spades, a crowbar and a blue bag.
The next day, Saman was seen on video leaving her house with her parents for the last time.
The girl’s mother, Nazia Shaheen, has yet to be apprehended and is a fugitive in Pakistan after being indicted in absentia.
Every year, hundreds of women are murdered in so-called honor killings carried out by husbands or relatives as a punishment for alleged adultery or other illicit sexual behavior.