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'For an older man, you have a good punch'

September 30, 2003 17:18 IST

A Kurdish Muslim teenager who was murdered last October by her own father because he disapproved of her western way of life and her boyfriend wrote him a letter after he beat her black and blue in the weeks before she died.

Shortly before she tried to escape from home, 16-year-old Heshu Yones wrote to her father Abdalla: "Hey, for an older man you have a good, strong punch and kick. I hope you enjoyed testing your strength on me. It was fun being on the receiving end. WELL DONE."

She added, "One day when I have a proper job every penny I owe you will be repaid in full. I will find a way to independently look after myself. I will go to social security to get myself a flat or hostel. I will be ok.

"Don't look for me because I don't know where I'm going yet. I just want to be alone."

A few days later 47-year-old Abdalla stabbed Heshu to death after he found she was no longer a virgin.

Details of how she was killed in the family bathroom have shocked those who have been following Abdalla's trial.

Abdalla later tried to kill himself by slashing his throat and throwing himself from the third-floor balcony of his rented London flat.

He was in hospital for several months and claimed that Al Qaeda extremists had broken into their flat, killed Heshu and attacked him before throwing him off the balcony.

British MP Ann Cryer, who has been highlighting the issue of honour killings, said she felt incredibly saddened by the case.

"I feel so sorry for this girl and others like her. At the end of the day this country was good enough to take this man in and he has to accept that you can't cherry-pick. You can't accept parts of the culture and not others. I understand that he wanted to bring up his daughter as a Muslim, but she was living in England. If he didn't like it, he should have gone back," she said.

Cryer has urged action to stop honour killings, which in the past five years have been linked to at least 20 deaths in Britain.

The victims, mainly Muslims, face being killed by family members as a result of the shame perceived to have been caused by their behaviour.

Abdalla fled Iraq with his wife and three children 10 years ago after being involved in the Kurdish struggle for independence.

He claimed asylum in Britain and was granted indefinite leave to stay, but found it difficult to adjust to British life, the Old Bailey court in London heard.

His children, including Heshu, went on to study in south-west London school.

John McGuinness QC, prosecuting, told the court earlier this week: "Unsurprisingly for a 16-year-old, she was a bubbly, cheeky, fun-loving girl, popular at school and with her friends.

"There was tension at home particularly with her father. He was not happy with her lifestyle and wanted her to live within the Muslim religion and cultural traditions."

Police said she was considerate of her father's faith, waiting until she got to college before wearing make-up, but began a sexual relationship with her 18-year-old boyfriend, whom she had been dating for several months.

Shortly before the murder Abdalla received a letter, written in Kurdish, describing his daughter as a slut who was sleeping with her boyfriend on a daily basis.

Judge Neil Denison, passing sentence, said on Monday: "This is, on any view, a tragic story arising out of irreconcilable cultural differences between traditional Kurdish values and the values of western society."

He told Abdalla, "It is plain (that) you strongly and genuinely disapproved of the lifestyle in this country of your daughter and the fact that was affecting her schoolwork.

"But having said that, the killing and the manner of it was, as you have recognised, an appalling act."

Shyam Bhatia in London