New York taxi driver guilty of planning honor killings in Pakistan

The star witness at the honor killing trial of a New York cabdriver was the daughter who left an arranged marriage.
By Frances Burns  |  July 3, 2014 at 4:25 PM
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NEW YORK, July 3 (UPI) -- A New York City cabdriver was convicted Thursday of arranging the killings in Pakistan of relatives of a man who helped his daughter leave an arranged marriage.

A jury in federal court in Brooklyn deliberated for little more than an hour before finding Mohammad Choudhry guilty. Choudhry, 61, who remained calm as he listened to the verdict, could receive a life sentence for the crime.

Choudhry is a longtime resident of Brooklyn who has been driving a taxi in New York for more than 20 years. But prosecutors said he retained traditional attitudes, becoming enraged when his daughter, Amina Ajmal, left her husband, Abrar Ahmed Babar, soon after her wedding in December 2012.

Ajmal had help from her boyfriend, Shujat Abbas, prosecutors said. Abbas's father and sister were gunned down in Pakistan in February 2013.

Prosecutors said Choudhry enlisted relatives in Pakistan to carry out the honor killing, and suggested it was a prelude to killing Abbas. He allegedly organized the hit by cellphone from his taxi.

"He said it over and over," assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Tucker said during closing arguments Wednesday. "He wanted to kill Shujat Abbas -- the boy who helped his daughter run away from an arranged marriage, the boy who humiliated him in front of his family and village."

The key to the prosecution case was recordings of phone calls between Choudhry and his daughter. He could be heard threatening her with death if she did not return to the family home.

Ajmal, who cooperated with federal investigators, also testified against her father. Both father and daughter wept as she testified that she still loved him.

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