London, Jan 12 : A teenage Muslim girl who feared a forced marriage was being arranged by her parents was killed unlawfully, a coroner said yesterday.
Shafilea Ahmed (17) was found dead on a river bank five months after she disappeared, following claims from friends and teachers that she feared being forced into marriage.
Police launched a murder inquiry and arrested her parents on suspicion of kidnapping the teenager, from Warrington, Cheshire, but both were released without charge.
Ian Smith, the East and South Cumbria Coroner, told the inquest: "Shafilea was the victim of a very vile murder. I believe she was taken from her home on September 11, 2003. I do not believe she ran away. She was murdered."
"I'm convinced of that because of the way in which the body was disposed. It had been hidden and she had been taken many miles away from home," Smith added
He said the concept of an arranged marriage was "central" to the circumstances leading up to her death.
During the four-day inquest in Kendal, Cumbria, Shafilea's mother accused detectives of not doing enough to find her daughter's killer.
Shafilea's body was discovered after heavy floods washed away the dense undergrowth in which it was hidden on the banks of the River Kent at Sedgwick, Cumbria, in February 2004.
On Thursday Shafilea's parents, Iftikhar and Farzana, said they would challenge the coroner's ruling of unlawful killing.
Their solicitor Nadeem Ullah said: "The Ahmeds disagree with the decision of the coroner's court and they are currently receiving advice regards appealing the decision of the coroner by judicial review."
"Shafilea was a very frightened young woman and she was frightened of the consequences of an arranged marriage," Smith said.
He said her fears were first aroused after a phone conversation in 2002 between her father and his uncle in Pakistan. They had discussed a possible arranged marriage between Shafilea and the uncle's son.
Shafilea ran away for 10 days in February 2003 and told housing officers: "My parents are going to send me to Pakistan and I'll be married to someone and left there."
Ahmed said in evidence he accepted his daughter's reply of "no way" when a potential suitor was mentioned, Scotsman.com reported.