Family members to stand trial over Pakistani woman’s disappearance

Five family members will go on trial over the alleged murder of a Pakistani teenager who refused an arranged marriage, an Italian judge has ruled.

Saman Abbas disappeared last year in Italy after refusing her parents’ demands to marry a cousin in Pakistan.

Italian authorities suspect that the 18-year-old was killed and her body was buried.

Saman had told her boyfriend in Italy that her family was talking about killing her, and her parents fled to Pakistan from Milan just one day after her disappearance.

For two months, around 500 Italian police officers — aided by dogs and drones — searched farm fields near the town where the family lived in Novellara.

On Tuesday, a judge in Reggio Emilia ruled that Saman’s parents, two cousins, and an uncle — who was extradited from France — should go on trial.

Saman’s parents are likely to be tried in absentia after failing to respond to appeals from Italian authorities.

The uncle has denied any role in his niece’s disappearance, despite video evidence that he was seen walking with a shovel and a pitchfork in the countryside near the family’s home.

Saman’s 16-year-old brother was the other family member who remained in Italy and has been transferred to a protected centre.

The first hearing of the trial has been set for 10 February 2023.

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