Ahmed al-Assam, 24, a Tel Sheva
resident, was indicted Sunday for the murder of his 16-year-old sister Aisha. The evidence, however, shows that this heinous act of "honor killing"
could have easily been prevented.
According to the indictment, some three weeks ago Aisha al-Assam and her brother had an argument over Aisha's relationship with her boyfriend. When Aisha kept insisting that she and her boyfriend wanted to be together, her brother picked up a kitchen knife and slit her throat.
Ahmed then stepped out of his sister's room to the backyard and announced "I killed her." Later, he called the police and reported the act.
The dispute was ongoing. Aisha and her boyfriend had moved in together in the past, but she agreed to return to the family home after her family persisted and her brother was made to vow that no harm would befall her.
Her boyfriend, however, was not at ease, and tried to enlist the help of the police in protecting her from an impending threat. According to transcripts from his conversation with the police,
Aisha's boyfriend tried to explain that both their lives were in danger.
"If she goes back to her family, they're going to kill her," he told the police. "It's a certainty. I've received threats that I'll be murdered and that we'd both be beheaded."
When the boyfriend tried to file an official police complaint, pleading that Aisha must be removed from the family home, he was told that he had to wait, for there were other complaints that needed to be tended to first.
Despite his frantic appeals, Aisha's boyfriend was ignored and his warning that her life was in danger was repeatedly dismissed. "It's going to be fine," a police officer told him.
Aisha was murdered just days later.
Commenting on the incident, the defendant's counsel, Yossi Zilberberg, stressed the tragic aspect of what he perceived as a death that could have been prevented. Speaking about his client's deep regret for what he had done, the counsel did not ignore the police's misconduct of the case.
"We find it atrocious that the Israel Police, well aware of the concept of honor in the Bedouin
family, and despite having knowledge of the deceased's recent attempts to escape from her family home, did not do anything to remove the minor from her their custody," Zilberberg said.
The counsel added that the police's inaction was especially grave since they were informed of the danger Aisha was in, and due to the fact that she was a minor.
"In such a case," he said, "a welfare official and a social worker…
were obligated to issue a warrant to ensure that she does not stay at that house. They have never met with the deceased. Had the authorities acted properly, this could have been prevented."
The police responded to the claims, stating that "The teen was tended to. The local welfare office was familiar with the case. All police actions were made in coordination with the welfare authorities."
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