By Allan Hall
A Muslim mother and father who murdered their own daughter for bringing 'shame' on the family because she had sex with a man they did not approve of have been caged for life in Germany.
The so-called 'honour killing' of Lareeb Khan, 19, was carried out by her father Azadullah, 52, who crept into her bedroom at night and strangled her while her mother Shazia, 42, looked on.
The killing was triggered because they learned she had tried to steal condoms for her illicit sex sessions with her lover.
Lareeb Khan was strangled by her father as her mother looked on after they discovered she had been caught trying to shoplift condoms. They disapproved of her relationship with a man called Raheel, 23
Both then disposed of the body of the 'bright and talented' youngster whose only crime was to fall in love with a 23-year-old man called Raheel they disapproved of.
The crime shocked Germany which is struggling with an influx of almost a million refugees, most of them Muslim, changing the face of the country forever. The case stokes fears of a schizophrenic society evolving with some immigrants unable to jettison values and beliefs that have no place in modern western societies.
Judge Volker Wagner referred to their right to live in their own cultural cosmos when he summed up before sentencing - but not at the expense of human life.
The Khan parents, a court in Darmstadt has heard over the past two months, were originally from Pakistan and intended to arrange a marriage for Lareeb, a dental technician who, unlike her mother and father, spoke perfect German and was totally assimilated into society.
Breaking point for the parents happened in January this year when police wrote a warning letter to Lareeb's mother and father saying she had been caught trying to shoplift condoms but that she would be let off with a warning.
Her father snapped. The court heard how he crept into her room as she slept and strangled her while her mother looked on. Both then dressed dead daughter Lareeb, a dental technician, in her clothes.
They then wheeled her in the wheelchair used by Lareeb's grandmother from their high-rise apartment to the family car, drove to a secluded embankment in their home city of Darmstadt and tipped the corpse down it.
Mother Shazia would later tell police that she did not intervene to try to save her daughter out of fear of her husband. But the court learned she was every bit as fanatical as him and was often at loggerheads with Lareeb.
Khan told police after the killing: 'My daughter could not defend herself because one arm was pinned under the mattress and she could not speak because I was applying so much pressure. I noticed that after five minutes she was dead but I continued to press.'
He said they dumped her body and planned to tell people she had run away. But her corpse was found the next day and the parents confessed to the crime almost immediately.
Judge Wagner heard the father take all the guilt for the crime, that his wife did not have the strength to resist him. Axel Kollbach, her lawyer, asked for her to be sentenced only for help in disposing of the body, not murder, and to take into account the 'cultural background' to the crime.
But Judge Wagner was having none of it, stating: 'She clearly is also guilty of murder. You feared being shunned by the community if it got out that your daughter had slept with her boyfriend.
'It was worth killing your daughter for. A woman cannot be so physically weak that she doesn't intervene in the murder of her own daughter and instead watches it for five minutes.
He added: 'What is justice? Lareeb is dead, her sister Neda lives with foster parents, the parents are facing life imprisonment...'
Lareeb's younger sister Neda, 14, condemned her mother in court, saying she was the effective head of the family and that Lareeb actually got on better with her killer father than her mother.
Of the murder she said: 'My father created his absolute own killing will.'
Her father's pathetic last words to the court on Tuesday before he was led away to begin his sentence were spoken through an interpreter. 'I would undo it all if I could,' he said. 'I accept any punishment.'