Europe

Man arrested over disappearance of woman who refused arranged marriage

A man has been arrested in Paris over the disappearance of a woman in Italy who had refused an arranged marriage.

The suspect is the uncle of the woman, 18, according to Italian Prosecutor Isabella Chiesi.

Saman Abbas — who Italian authorities fear may now be dead — had reportedly been pressured by her parents to marry a man she had never met in Pakistan.

She was last seen in late April by neighbours in the vicinity of her family’s home in the farm town of Novellara, near the city of Reggio Emilia.

A few days later, a Milan airport video captured her parents hurrying to catch a flight to Pakistan.

Chiesi told reporters that Paris police, acting on a European warrant issued in connection with the teenager’s disappearance, had detained Abbas’ uncle on Wednesday.

He was arrested in an apartment on the outskirts of Paris where he had been living with other people. Italian police said his social media use played a part in investigators tracking him down.

Prosecutors hope that the suspect will now be transferred to Italy for questioning.

Italian authorities are also seeking the parents and a male cousin, while another cousin was detained in France earlier this year and then placed in custody in Italy.

The young woman’s disappearance has gripped Italy for weeks.

Police, aided by dogs, have searched the farm fields of Novellara near the family’s home looking for Abbas’ body.

Three men were seen on a surveillance camera video carrying shovels, a pail, and a sack near the family home in Italy about the time of her disappearance.

Abbas had told her boyfriend in Italy, who is also of Pakistani origin, that her parents wanted to marry her off to an older man in their homeland but that she was refusing.

After approaching the authorities, she was allowed to stay at a shelter but later returned home when her family begged her, Italian news reports said.

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