A case of ‘honour’

Family members of a Palestinian girl are accused of brutally beating her for having a Danish boyfriend

A court in the Copenhagen suburb of Glostrup heard the first day of testimony today in the trial of four family members of a 17-year-old girl – including her parents – who stand accused of imprisoning and beating her because she had a Danish boyfriend.

The four, all with Palestinian roots, are alleged to have stripped and beaten the teen, cut some of hair off and strangled her with a leather belt to the point of suffocation.

The four suspects, the girl’s parents plus an aunt and uncle, have all pleaded not guilty.

The trial is being held behind closed-doors, but according to information reported by TV 2 News, the beating was a so-called honour crime.

The girl’s parents are said to have refused to accept that she had a Danish boyfriend and resorted to extreme and violent measures force her to stop seeing him.

They first pulled the girl out of school and locked her inside their Taastrup home for several days until she promised not to see the young man again.

When the parents discovered that the girl had broken her promise, she was imprisoned, beaten and nearly killed.

According to the indictment, on the afternoon of March 4, the girl’s parents locked her in their car and drove her to her uncle’s home in Taastrup.

The indictment alleges that the 17-year-old’s father told his brother that he could kill his daughter because “he did not want to see her again.”

The uncle is accused of then beginning a three-hour long gauntlet of torture and abuse that at times put the girl in mortal danger.

The girl's father was not present while his brother is accused of then ordering the girl to strip. He is then said to have whipped her with a leather belt while the girl’s mother and aunt watched. The child’s mother also reportedly participated in the abuse, cutting of hunks of the girl’s hair when she was not satisfied with a response the girl gave to her uncle’s questions.

The nightmare, according to the girl, did not end there. The indictment states that the uncle several times twisted the belt around the girl’s neck so tightly that her life was in danger.

The girl left the house through a window and sought help from a neighbour. The neighbour will be called as a witness during the trial.

“At one point she was left alone and escaped to find help from someone in the area,” Charlotte Skovby, a deputy inspector with Københavns Vestegns Politi, told TV 2.

A source close to the case said that the sad saga has cost the teenager her relationship with her entire family. Meanwhile her mother, father, uncle and aunt have received massive support from the rest of their extended families.

The police had originally considered attempted murder charges against the four, but ultimately charged them with grievous bodily harm and unlawful detention.

“We believe that they did not want to kill the girl,” lead prosecutor Martin von Bülow said. “Every time she started to lose consciousness they gave her air, which is why they aren’t charged with attempted murder.”

Attorney’s representing the other defendants had no comments beyond their clients' not guilty pleas, but Jens Christian von der Maase, who is representing the girl's father, said he felt like he had a good case.

“My client pleaded not guilty because he was not present when the attack is supposed to have happened,” von der Maase told TV 2 News.