Episode 51 - The Murder of Banaz Mahmod

Banaz Mahmod was a young woman living in the UK whilst simultaneously imprisoned by the strict beliefs of her culture. After a childhood spent in a war-torn country, her family escaped for a safer life in the UK. But western culture clashed deeply with her community, and she was torn between honouring her family and honouring herself.  

Ultimately, choosing herself meant choosing to go against her family. For them, there was no greater shame and only one adequate punishment. Death.  

To understand Banaz’s story, you must first understand the culture in which she was raised.  

The story begins in the years of control imposed by Saddam Hussain during his dictatorship of Iraq. Under his control was an Iraqi ethnic group called Kurds whose demographic spread to much of western Asia and especially to the rural mountain regions of Kurdistan in Iraq. One of the towns that belonged to Iraqi Kurdistan called Qaladiza was home to the Mirawdale tribe. A man named Mahmod Babakir Mahmod was a member of that tribe and was the eldest of four brothers. He was a strongly cultured Iraqi who valued his family’s reputation above everything and fought to maintain its honour.  

While serving his as a soldier, Mahmod Babkir Mahmod married a woman named Behya. Little is known about Behya except that the couple spent much of their early married years in the town of Qaladiza, building their life and family. Over time they had children of their own – one son and five daughters.

First, there is Beza who was born eight years before Banaz. She was forced into an arranged marriage to a man who controlled her every move.  

 The next of Banaz’s sisters was Bekhal who was born two years before her. Bekhal was a strong-willed and independent young woman, both of which are not seen as attractive qualities for women in the Mirawdale culture.

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Two years after Banaz was born her little sister Payman arrived. Banaz always called her little sister by her nickname Pyzee, and the two sisters were the closest of the siblings.  

There was one final sister born after Pyzee though due to her age, her name has remained concealed. Then came the youngest child and only son in the family, Bahman.  

Banaz Mahmod was born on the 16th of December 1985. She was described as a gracious person with a heart of gold. She was self-aware and empathetic and those who knew her could never recall an instance when she had raised her voice or got angry with anyone. She was conscious of how words and actions could hurt others’ feelings. Banaz’s only desire was to live a happy life. 

Devastatingly, the opportunity to achieve this simple dream was stolen from her by those she trusted the most.  

In 1995, when Banaz was 10 years old the family fled the violence in Iraq and sought Asylum in the UK. But while they left their home and belongings behind, Mahmod and his brother ensured they brought their brutal traditions with them. 

Despite Mahmod being the eldest brother in his family, his younger sibling, Ari took the role of head of the family. Whilst a patriarchal structure isn’t too different from other cultures there are certain aspects of their belief system which set them apart.  

Ari believed that as head of the family, it was his responsibility to control the lives of every woman in the family. This included controlling what they wore, who they spoke to, who they married and even how they experienced pleasure.  

He took his position seriously and as each of Banaz’s female siblings turned ten years old, they were subjected to female genital mutilation. FGM is also known as female circumcision. The origin of male circumcision was for hygiene and to prevent infection. In more recent times it is usually conducted for religious or medical reasons. It is almost always conducted on a newborn or young infant in a medical environment.  

In contrast, female circumcision is carried out specifically to remove the ability of a woman to feel sexual pleasure. Female genital mutilation is a painful procedure which usually involves the removal of the clitoral hood, clitoral glans, inner labia, and outer labia. FGM plays a huge role in taking away a female’s sexuality. In many cultures, young girls and women are circumcised as a means to ensure their virginity until marriage and to increase the pleasure they provide their husbands. In some cultures, the vulva is sewn shut with only a small opening left for menstrual fluid to pass through. When the girl is married off, the hole will be made wide enough for intercourse and widened again in preparation for childbirth.  

Putting aside the brutality and intention of the procedure itself for a moment, another concerning aspect of this process is that it is usually carried out by a person with little to no medical experience and in an unsterile environment without pain relief.  

And that is exactly how it was for Banaz and her sisters. For instance, her older sister Bekhal was operated on by their grandmother who deliberately struck a nerve ending during the procedure. This left Bekhal permanently injured on top of the pain of the procedure itself.  

FGM is outlawed in many countries and there are ongoing campaigns to put an end to the practice altogether. But for most women who experience the procedure, it is carried out under a shroud of silence and protection enabled by the devout cultures they are born into.  

Naturally, FGM leaves not only physical scars but emotional trauma as well.  

After arriving in the UK, the Mahmod family moved into a sparse semi-detached house at 225 Morden Road, Morden, which is a suburb of southwest London. Mahmod’s younger brother and head of the family lived just a few miles away in Mitcham. His proximity enabled him to retain control over the women in Banaz’s family.  

Ari was the wealthiest of his four siblings and he owned several supermarkets in the area. He was also involved in projects to transform a large property on Wandsworth Road in South Lambeth into flats. Ari lived in a modern house, with his wife and his children – two daughters, and a son. Despite Ari’s wealth, Banaz and her family lived in near poverty with little income as neither of her parents was able to land a job given that they didn’t speak English.  

By the time the family touched down in the UK, the oldest sister Beza had been married off and was sent to live with her new husband. The other children including Banaz were enrolled at a local school and given their first insight into life outside of their strict cultural upbringing.  

Given that Banaz was a gentle and peaceful person she didn’t have much desire to cause any issues at home. While she experienced western culture at school when she returned home, she maintained the behaviour that was expected of her. Be quiet, do what you’re told, cook and clean, and be invisible.  

Her older sister, Bekhal took an entirely different approach. She was already known as the rebellious sister, and she began to display aspects of the western culture which went directly against her parent’s beliefs. Bekhal was aware that her behaviour wouldn’t be tolerated, and she went to great lengths to hide what she was up to. But there are some things she couldn’t hide like growing her nails, plucking her eyebrows, and wearing perfume. Every time she was caught, she would endure a violent beating from her father all under the watchful eye of her similarly controlled mother.  

What Bekhal would come to realise was that she wasn’t safe outside the home either. Her uncle Ari had connections with all the Kurdish families in the area. Unbeknownst to her, Ari had told everyone about his five nieces, and he set up spies to report to him exactly what the girls got up to.  

One day, Bekhal was walking home from school with an Asian male friend. She wasn’t aware that she was being followed by Azad, the son of another one of her uncles. Bekhal sat down between two cars, hiding as she lit a cigarette to smoke. Within seconds, Azad stormed up to the pair and hit Bekhal’s friend with a helmet that he was carrying. By the time she reached home, everyone in the community knew what she had done, and all hell broke loose.  

Over and above everything, bringing shame on your family was an unforgivable sin. There was a toxic cultural competition between the children of senior members of the community. They took pride in telling adults about other children’s misconduct so the family with no scandals could boast about having the most honourable child, who would ideally be a son. In their minds, women needed to be controlled because they couldn’t control themselves and were too easily influenced.  

After the incident, a meeting led by Ari was conducted immediately. To keep it short, Ari spoke of the disrespect Bekhal caused to the community by her choices. After shaming her for her actions, he also commented that if she were his daughter, she would be nothing but ashes.  

By the age of sixteen, Bekhal had made several attempts to run away. Finally, her abuse was reported to social services, and she was placed into the foster care system. Overnight, any trace of her existence was erased from the house and Payman recalls how it was like Bekhal had never existed at all.  

Regardless of Mahmod’s attempt to erase any memory of Bekhal, the news of his daughter running away from home spread through the community like wildfire. Her actions reflected poorly on him as a man. In their belief system, Mahmod was incompetent as a Kurdish man since he was incapable of controlling his daughters. Consequently, the Mahmod family lost their status in the community, and they became outcasts. When any member of the family dared to share their face around other Kurdish folks, they were abused with some going so far as to threaten to throw petrol bombs at their house.  

After that, Mahmod Babkir became desperate to restore his reputation. 

With Bekhal gone and Beza married off, there was just Banaz, Payman and their youngest sister and their only brother Bahman.  

Mahmod’s first attempt to restore his reputation was to eliminate Bekhal completely. She was already gone from their house and supposedly from their memory, but Mahmod wanted her gone for good. As in dead.  

Bekhal was asked by her brother to meet him at a remote location with a suitcase. As she walked down the path in front of him, he hit her in the head with a dumbbell and wrapped his hand around her neck in an attempt to murder her. Bekhal fought back until he let her go. When she tearfully asked her little brother why he tried to kill her, he started to weep, and he revealed that their own father had paid him to put an end to the shame she had caused him and their family. After the attempted murder, Bekhal went into hiding. In fear of being killed, to this day she never appears in public unless she is covered from head to toe. While many will see her burqa as a sign of her religion or oppression for her it is to ensure her safety so that she cannot be identified when she leaves the house.  

After failing to exact his revenge on Bekhal, Mahmod turned his attention to his next oldest children, Banaz and Payman. At the time Payman was 15 years old and was sitting her GCSCE exams while Banaz was enrolled in college.  

Despite the future that life in the UK promised them both, their father had far smaller ambitions for them. He had arranged for them to get married to men who were much older so that they wouldn’t be able to repeat the mistakes of their sister.  

In 2003, at the age of seventeen, Ari and Mahmod arranged for Banaz to marry a man from the same village they were from in Iraq. His name was Ali Abbas Hommar, and he was 10 years older than his bride. Ali was illiterate and he was described by Banaz as being old-fashioned and “thinking like, in 50 years back”. As soon as Ali stepped off the plane from Iraq, Banaz was forced to drop out of college and move in with him to a house in Coventry, England.  

Just like her father, Ali Hommar took immense joy in exercising control over Banaz. He treated Banaz as if she were his slave, rather than his wife. He was both physically and mentally abusive towards her. When he wanted to have sex he got it, whether she was interested or not. If she refused Ali would rape her.  

She was restricted from using his given name in front of guests. The one time she accidentally called him Ali, he felt disrespected, and he threatened to stick a knife in her. On another occasion, he asked her to spell a word for him. Banaz refused and as a consequence, he hit her hard enough that she started to bleed from her ears. Because of the constant physical abuse, Banaz began to suffer from memory loss, and she began to keep a journal where she documented his sexual, physical, and verbal abuse. She also took photos of the bruises that appeared on her body.  

Unfortunately, Ali found Banaz’s journal and burned the evidence of what he had done to her.  

Keep in mind, Banaz was only 17 years old, and she normalised what was happening to her. She had been raised to believe women had no say, men were always right and to complain would only bring shame on her family. She had seen what happened to her sister and she didn’t want to bring the same fate upon herself. She decided instead to try and reason with Ali. She confronted him and told him that what he was doing was hurting her. Whilst he admitted that he was physical with her, he gave no assurances that he would stop. He told Banaz to keep her mouth shut regarding the matter otherwise she would bring shame on her family.  

Over time, Ali convinced her that nobody cared for her and that her family valued him more than her. As her husband, he was allowed to do as he wished with her and to her.  

For a while, Banaz believed what Ali told her and she kept her mouth shut. But her agreeable nature seemed to encourage him, and the violence escalated until eventually, she felt she had no choice but to seek advice from her parents.  

When Mahmod and Behya confronted Ali regarding what Banaz was telling them, he admitted that he had indeed been beating her. But he also offered an explanation – he was only doing so because of her disrespectful behaviour towards him. He admitted to raping her but only when she said no to him. Perhaps unsurprisingly given their opinion of women and their role in society, her parents saw no wrong in what he was doing. Instead, they advised their daughter to stay with Ali as leaving him would bring shame on the family. They sent her back telling her to be a better wife. After that Ali’s behaviour escalated even further.  

In July 2005, two years into their marriage on an otherwise normal day Ali looked at Banaz and told her “Look at yourself in the mirror, like how you have become so ugly and skinny.”  

Though his choice of words was cruel and hurtful, it wasn’t the first time Banaz had heard them. Her sister Bekhal had secretly visited Banaz, and she too had noticed a significant change both in her appearance and in her personality. Whilst Banaz had always been quiet she now appeared like a shell of herself. Her eyes were always looking at the floor and she struggled to hold a conversation. When Bekhal said those words, it was from a place of concern but when it came to Ali they were intended to hurt.  

Banaz decided then and there that she had had enough of his torture and on that day, she phoned her mother and told her she was getting a divorce. She gathered several of her belongings and left for her parent’s house, leaving her husband behind her. Banaz knew her culture and she knew that leaving her husband was absolutely forbidden but she simply couldn’t bear any more of his physical and emotional abuse.  

The response from her parents was as Banaz had expected but she was steadfast in her decision. A month after leaving her husband, she began a secret relationship with another man. This time it was a person that she chose, not who had been chosen for her.  

Rahmat Suleiman quickly became the centre of Banaz’s world. Within months, the two had fallen deeply in love and the woman Banaz had been before her terrifying marriage to Ali began to emerge again. Not a morning went by without Banaz texting him a good-morning and good-night text expressing her love and appreciation for his presence in her life. Despite the secrecy and the risk of the relationship, Banaz and Rahmat decided they would spend the rest of their lives together. They were excited about the future and had already picked out names for their children.  

Unfortunately, the secret didn’t stay hidden for long and soon, Banaz’s worst fears started to become a reality. She was already a target since she had gone against her parents, her uncle, and her culture by filing for divorce. But starting a new relationship with someone from the outside put her directly in the crosshairs.  

Banaz began to notice that when she left the house, a group of men was following her. On one of these occasions, Rahmat and Banaz were photographed kissing near a grocery shop next to the Morden station, but she realised too late that they were being watched. On the 2nd of December 2005, these men informed Ari about what they had seen.  

Ari was infuriated by Banaz’s blatant disrespect. He believed that her choices reflected on him. If he didn’t take action, he would look like a man who had no control over his family and in particular his women.  

That night Ari called a meeting with Banaz’s father – in a sign of what was to come, they referred to this meeting as a war council. In their minds, Banaz and Rahmat’s relationship was equivalent to war. Their meeting was to decide what action they would take to put an end to it once and for all.  

During the meeting, the group discussed their options – but for Ari, there was no choice. There was only one path forward – Banaz and Rahmat would both have to die.  

As head of the family, Ari’s decision was not questioned, not even by her father. When the plan was set Ari rang Banaz’s mother and told her what was going to happen. Her daughter was going to be killed. She had already lost one daughter when the family had shunned her and now, she was about to lose another. And still, Behya didn’t object to the plan. She agreed that this is what was required to stop any further damage to the family name.  

Unbeknownst to Behya, Banaz was listening in on the phone call from another room. She heard the conviction in her uncle’s voice, and she knew this wasn’t a simple threat. Ari was deadly serious. I can only imagine what it was like for her to not only hear her uncle discuss her murder so casually and then to also realise that her parents were fully on board with the plan.  

Banaz decided to seek help on the 4th of December. She travelled to the Wimbledon police station where she told the officers about the threats her uncle Ari had made against her and Rahmat. She also explained all the abuse she had endured during her marriage to Ali which was why she had left him in the first place. She went on to explain how in her culture, it was a disgraceful act for a woman to divorce their husband and it was punishable by death. Banaz specifically told the police not to speak with Ari or anyone else involved as it would only make things worse. She simply wanted to make a record of it in case something happened to her.  

Despite the frightened but determined woman in front of them, the police offered no support or made any suggestions for things Banaz could do to keep herself safe. The next day a detective from the station decided to pay Banaz a visit to her parent’s house. This visit was observed by other members of the community and Ali became aware that his defiant niece had gone to the police which further enraged him.  

On the 12th of December 2005, Banaz went back to the police station and handed over a letter containing names, details, workplaces, and even the colour of the cars of five men whom she had heard would be the ones to kill her. According to Rahmat, Banaz was given this information from one of Ari’s daughters. Once again, the police sent Banaz on her way with no further action being taken.  

By now, both Rahmat and Banaz were certain that it was simply a matter of time before one of them or both would be targeted by Ari or one of his thugs.  

They were right to be worried. On New year’s Eve, Banaz was washing dishes at her parent’s house when her father Mahmod asked her to come with him to her grandmother’s house to sort out her divorce from Ali.  

Mahmod drove them both to the grandmother’s house using a different route than usual. When they arrived, he told her to switch off her mobile phone and handed her an empty suitcase to carry inside. Banaz immediately noticed the house was dark with all the curtains drawn. Mahmod told her to sit on the sofa and handed her a glass of brandy. Banaz had never drunk alcohol and it took her by surprise when her father asked her to drink it. As she sipped the burning liquid, he started to ask about Banaz’s relationship with Rahmat. As the conversation progressed, he persuaded her to drink more alcohol and asked her if she felt sleepy.  

When half of the bottle was gone, Mahmod asked her to turn away from him and face the television. In the reflection of the TV, Banaz caught a glimpse of her father creeping up to her with his hands wrapped in blue rubber gloves. Despite her intoxication, she realised her father was attempting to kill her.  

She tried to get up but was pushed back into the sofa while he walked into the other room to grab something. Banaz realised that her father had left the key in the lock of the back door, and she made a run for it, escaping into the back garden. She punched through the next-door neighbour’s window in an attempt to seek help. But the house was empty, so she climbed over the fence, stumbled across the street, and ended up on the floor of the Heart and Soul Cafe. The staff there called ambulance and police to the scene. Sadly, this incident became yet another missed opportunity. o help Banaz.  

A female officer took a statement from the frightened and intoxicated Banaz. She was disbelieving of Banaz’s story, and her report described the woman as “melodramatic” and “manipulative.” It was later discovered that she hadn’t reported this case to the CID which is against protocol.  

Despite the female officer’s insensitivity, Rahmat was called to be with Banaz at the hospital. He had the presence of mind to record Banaz on his mobile phone as she described the frightening event. The next day, Banaz discharged herself from the hospital and stayed over at Rahmat’s home.  

What came next was deja vu for the Mahmod family. They were once again begging a daughter to not run away as it would shame their name. Mahmod requested a meeting with Rahmat and Banaz. The pair agreed and Mahmod kissed Rahmat’s hand and wept about how his brother Ari pushed him to kill Banaz. After the meeting, her parents called Banaz several times, apologizing and pleading with her to return home. Banaz wanted nothing more than a normal family and for her parents to accept her. She wanted to believe that they were sorry for what they had done, and she chose to forgive them and return home.  

It was around this time that the female police officer involved in the initial incident visited Banaz to charge her for breaking the window of the neighbour’s house.  

In early January 2006, Banaz and Rahmat declared that they had separated in an attempt to get Ari and Mahmod to leave them alone. But behind closed doors, the pair were growing even closer.  

Meanwhile, Ari and Mahmod were still angry about the shame Banaz had brought on their family. The separation made no difference to them, the damage had already been done.  

On the 22nd of January Rahmat was due to visit a friend in Hounslow on the outskirts of west London. As he left the house accompanied by a couple of friends, a Ford Focus pulled up next to him. Inside were four men, three of whom he recognized as the men Banaz had mentioned in her letter. The men attempted to drag him from the car and when they failed, they yelled “You cannot carry on doing what you are doing. You are not English. You are Kurdish and Muslim, and you are going to die.” 

Rahmat text Banaz to tell her what told had happened and she replied “Jus be careful, Rahmat, gian, cuz I dnt fink I cud live a second widout u.” 

Despite her frequent contact with the police, Banaz had never made a formal complaint. But this recent incident involving Rahmat tipped her over. On the 23rd of January 2006, she made a formal statement against her family. PC Alison Way was responsible for taking Banaz’s statement and she tried to convince her to stay at a safe house until she was able to meet with her the following day. But Banaz was adamant about returning home to her parent’s house as her mother was there. She told the officer “She will not let anything happen to me.” 

Banaz never showed up to her appointment on the 24th of January and Rahmat never got his usual good-morning text. Given the circumstances, Rahmat immediately reported Banaz missing. Yet again, the police didn’t take his report seriously despite him retelling what he knew of Banaz’s story from the beginning to the end. 

After hearing from Rahmat, police officers decided to speak with Banaz’s family to get to the bottom of what was going on. They visited her parent’s home where they were greeted by a mother and father who were the complete opposite of the people Rahmat had described. Mahmod and Behya claimed to be liberal parents who allowed their children to stay out overnight which is why they had not reported Banaz missing. But Rahmat insisted the officers look more closely and take his report seriously.  

Finally, the police agreed, and Detective chief inspector Caroline Goodie of the Metropolitan Police Homicide and Serious Crime Command was assigned to lead the investigation. She worked closely with the DI who had spoken with Rahmat. They agreed that with the many visits Banaz had made to the station as well as Rahmat’s statement, there was certainly something more going on than Banaz’s parents would have them believe.  

Initially, they believed Banaz was missing and potentially being held against her will. Her phone wasn’t active, and her accounts hadn’t been touched but there was no indication of any harm having come to her.  

Caroline requested Mahmod, Ari, and Behya be formally interviewed in relation to Banaz’s disappearance. Each one described themselves as supportive of the pair’s relationship. Ari and Mahmod both denied any contact with each other in relation to Banaz and denied that they would harm a family member. 

Despite their claims of innocence, on the 28th of January, Mahmod and Ari were arrested and treated as suspects rather than witnesses. This action caused both men to become aggressive and defensive which was in contrast to how they had presented themselves up until this point.  

Caroline’s next task was to arrest three of the men mentioned in Banaz’s original letter to the police.  

Omar Hussein and Mohammed Ali were individually arrested and questioned. Their story was that they were in support of the pair’s relationship and never attempted to kidnap Rahmat. In their version of events, they had simply had a friendly conversation with him because he had lied about splitting up with Banaz. They were granted bail and released. 

Mohammed Hama was harder to track down but after police left a message with an acquaintance, he confidently handed himself into police on the 2nd of February. He gave the same story as Omar and Mohammed Ali.  

By the time Mohammed Hama handed himself in, Omar and Mohammed Ali had left the UK and returned to Iraq. Fearing that he would do the same, he was kept in custody. During that time, he was identified by Rahmat as being one of the men who had tried to abduct him and who had threatened to kill him over his relationship with Banaz.  

While Mohammed Hama was in custody, he spoke by phone to the acquaintance who had encouraged him to come forward. The calls were recorded and later interpreted,  

During these conversations, Mohammed Hama confirmed Rahmat and the police’s worst fears. Banaz was dead. But the worst was yet to come.  

Mohammed Hama went into explicit detail as he described the last excruciating hours of Banaz’s life. He boasted and laughed about how he and his friends had abducted her and put her through two hours of hell.  

They had taken Banaz to….and had taken turns anally raping her. Banaz was so scared and in so much pain that she repeatedly vomited which caused the men to become more violent with her. They took a cord and wrapped it around her neck three times, and they pulled on it so tightly that it bit into the skin around her neck.  

Mohammed put his feet on Banaz’s back to give him more leverage as he continued to pull the cord. Right before she suffocated to death, they released the tension on the cord, and she gasped for breath. They repeated this cycle for more than an hour and a half. It was a horrific game of chicken with each of the men seeing how far she would go before she passed out. Eventually, Banaz’s brutalised body could take no more and she suffocated for the final time.  

After she died, the men stuffed her body into a suitcase which they handed over to Ari. Ari drove the suitcase to an acquaintance’s home where he buried his niece unceremoniously in the middle of the backyard.  

Unfortunately, Mohammed didn’t reveal the exact location where the suitcase had been buried. All he would say was that it was buried deep in the garden of Omar’s friend’s house. 

With that, the investigation kicked into high gear. They now had confirmation that Banaz was dead, and they knew who was involved. Now all attention was focused on finding her remains.  

Officers looked into phone records of the men who had gone back to Iraq which showed that around the time of the murder, they were frequently travelling in and out of London.  

Based on these records, Caroline and her team visited a number of addresses including ones taken from Mohammed Hama’s car GPS. Helicopters flew over the homes and attempted to identify potential burial sites while officers interviewed and translated conversations with members of the Kurdish community. But true to their nature, the Kurds closed ranks and went to great lengths to shield each other from the police. They were more interested in protecting a killer than they were in protecting a murdered young woman.  

The strongest lead in identifying the location of Banaz’s body was a simple question Mohammed had made to a friend in another recorded phone conversation. “Did you put the freezer back.” 

By April 2006, several helicopters and Caroline’s team had gathered photographs and video of all the suspected addresses. Whilst they looked over the footage, there was one address that stood out. Caroline remembered visiting a home at 86 Alexandra Road, Handsworth and when she reviewed the aerial footage, officers could see a freezer seemingly out of place in the middle of the backyard of the property.  

After visiting the address, a forensic archaeologist pointed out that there had been a disturbance in the earth right beneath the freezer. After a long excavation, they were able to recover a suitcase that was buried six feet into the earth.  

Banaz’s hair and elbow were poking out of the suitcase and when they opened it, they found her squeezed into the foetal position, wearing nothing but knickers and with the cord still wrapped around her neck. Her body was in an advanced state of decomposition. The fact suitcase had been discarded in a position which was located beneath a leaking pipe, leaving her to rot for three months before she was found.  

With the discovery of her body, Mohamad Marid Hama and Banaz’s uncle, Ari Agha Mahmod, and her cousins, Mohammed Saleh Ali, Omar Hussain, and Dana Amin were all charged with murder. In May 2006, her father was also charged with murder.  

Caroline personally flew to Iraq to extradite Mohammed Ali and Omar Hussein to the UK to face their charges.  

Mohammed Ali, Omar Hussein, and Mohammed Hama each pleaded guilty to murdering Banaz. Ari and Mahmod, the father of Banaz plead guilty to conspiring to kill Banaz and all of them were sentenced to life in prison with minimum terms starting at 17 years.  

Devastatingly, it was those closest to Banaz that are responsible for ending her life. From a childhood in a war-torn country to genital mutilation in the name of their culture and a forced marriage to a violent man, her life was marked with trauma and abuse. And yet through it all, Banaz remained a kind, gentle and loving woman who was finally about to find a small piece of happiness amongst all that pain. And yet her family couldn’t leave her to it. Her killers and her community defended her murder as an honour killing. But how is death at the hands of your family an honour? How is the death of a good, kind woman an honour?  

Despite the horror of her murder, her family had one final insult to make in Banaz’s memory. 

Her family told the police that her funeral was to be held at Regent’s Park Mosque. But on the day of the service, they instead went to a mosque in Tooting. Officers involved in the investigation were set to attend the service and when they found out about the change on the day, they rushed to get there in time. But when they arrived, there was no service. Caroline recalls –  

“They had deliberately lied to us to prevent us being present. when we arrived at Tooting it was obvious that plans had not been made for a funeral. the family had pitched up there with no warning. They went in for prayers, leaving their daughter’s body in a side road. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was only our presence that forced the family to hold a funeral”. 

Banaz’s family were so devout in their justification of her murder that even at her funeral they couldn’t bring themselves to honour her memory, which is the greatest dishonour of all.