Police in Spain have detained the father of two sisters who were victims of so-called ‘honour killings’ last May while visiting family in Pakistan, authorities said on Wednesday.
Spain’s National Police, working with the Catalan police, the Mossos d’Esquadra, confirmed local media reports that the father was taken into custody in the eastern town of Terrassa (Barcelona) in Catalonia.
He is under investigation for his alleged involvement in the murders of his daughters, Urooj Abbas, 21, and Anisa Abbas, 23. They were killed last year in Pakistan for reportedly refusing to help their husbands come to Spain after the women had been forced to marry two of their cousins.
The women were severely tortured and shot dead in the Gujrat district of Punjab province, which neighbours India.
According to Spanish media reports, the women, who had spent several years in Spain, had been forced into the marriages in 2021. When they travelled to Pakistan the following year, their relatives wanted them to help their husbands emigrate to Spain with them. They reportedly refused and asked for divorces instead.
In May, Pakistani police arrested six men for their suspected involvement in the murders. Pakistani officials said that murder charges were levelled against the victims’ brother, a paternal uncle, both husbands, a cousin, and both fathers-in-law.
Forced marriages are common in rural areas of conservative Pakistan, where relatives don’t hesitate to kill women who refuse them or ignore the opinions of family elders. Rights groups say around 1,000 women are killed every year in so-called ‘honour killings’ in Pakistan.