Norway: Family members charged with murder

The complex case around the death of Rahila Iqbal, 20, who died in connection with a car accident in Randheer, Pakistan last week, took a new turn on Wednesday when authorities there jailed her father and grandfather and charged them with murder.
Rahila Iqbal's husband asked Norwegian police to investigate the possibility of his wife's death as an "honor killing".
Her husband's family, who are Ahmadiya Muslims, claimed that she had been in danger after having converted away from her family, who are Sunni Muslims.

Rahila Iqbal, her father and her husband are Norwegian citizens.

Rahila's family reacted with shock when the accusations were made public just days after their daughter's death, and even agreed to have her body disinterred for autopsy, a rare step and one reportedly in conflict with Islamic sharia law.

Her family claim that she had broken all ties with her husband and was afraid of him after they separated. Rahila Iqbal's husband's family claims that they were all, Rahila included, subjected to death threats as a result of the marriage .

But odd circumstances around the car accident that may have claimed Rahila's life have prompted a deeper investigation.

Authorities have taken Rahila's father and grandfather into custody and the driver of the car, which reportedly plunged into a river resulting in her death by drowning, is being held in a separate cell. The arrests led to widespread protests in the local community.

"I was driving too fast and lost control over the car. I tried to keep it on the road but couldn't. The car slid off the road and landed in the river. Afterwards I managed to get out of the car," driver Kashif Basharat told Aftenposten's evening edition.

Some confusion remains about the circumstances of the woman's death and according to newspaper VG, her body did not show signs of a struggle to escape the sinking vehicle and that there was water in her stomach but not her lungs. VG also reported that Rahila's body was tended by a bystander prior to being examined, further complicating forensic investigation.

Originally published on 8 June 2005.