The Italian Almanac

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Hina Saleem

Honour Killing

An Italian appeals court has upheld the country`s landmark first conviction for a so-called `honour killing`, committed by three Pakistani men. A Brescia court confirmed a 30-year term handed down a year ago on the father of 20-year-old Hina Saleem, who was found brutally murdered in August 2006. But it reduced from 30 to 17 years the jail time for Saleem`s two brothers-in-law, who were found guilty of taking part in the killing.

Hina`s mother gave way to desperate wails after her husband`s conviction was upheld, refusing to leave the court. A 30-year sentence is the longest possible under Italian law in the fast-track process which was adopted in the first trial. Experts said that in a full-length trial the sentence would probably have been life imprisonment, Italy`s ultimate penalty.

Hina Saleem was stabbed 28 times on the third floor of her family home in the northern town of Sarezzo and buried in the garden. Her Italian boyfriend, with whom she was living at the time, found her body the next day after she failed to return home or answer her phone. According to the prosecution, Saleem was deliberately lured back to the family home following a meeting of male relatives, who decided to punish her for bringing shame upon the family.

Hina Saleem, together with her mother and sisters, left Pakistan in 2001, joining her father who settled in Italy in 1996. Her boyfriend, 31-year-old Giuseppe Tempini, told investigators she had been arguing with her family for weeks before the murder. She had apparently refused to marry the man her family wanted and would not return to Pakistan with her mother and sisters.

The November 2007 sentence was welcomed by female politicians, many of whom had followed the trial closely. The rightwing MP Daniela Santanche`, who received a death threat earlier in 2007 after claiming the Koran doesn`t require women to wear veils, said she hoped the full sentence would be served. Silvana Mura, an MP with the centrist Italy of Values party, also praised the ``fair decision`` of the judge. ``Let`s also hope the figure of young Hina becomes a symbol of courage, of joy in life, and of a willingness to integrate one`s own culture with that of the country one lives in,`` she said at the time.