Brooklyn cabbie gets life in US prison over Pakistan ‘honor killings’
NEW YORK – A Brooklyn cab driver was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday for arranging the “honor killings” of two family members of a man who helped his daughter flee from Pakistan to the United States to escape an arranged marriage.
Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry, 62, was sentenced by US District Judge William Kuntz in Brooklyn, New York, following his conviction last year on charges including conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country.
Kuntz said Choudhry had orchestrated a “calculated, cold-blooded” scheme after his daughter, with the help of the man she wanted to be with, fled her husband in Pakistan, who she was forced to marry so he could obtain a US visa.
“You were an egomaniacal force who revealed yourself to be self-absorbed and merciless in your pursuit of evil,” Kuntz said.
Prosecutors said that for more than three years, Choudhry’s daughter, Amina Ajmal, was held against her will by relatives in Pakistan at her father’s direction, and forced into the arranged marriage.
With the help of a Pakistani man prosecutors said she wanted a relationship with and the US State Department, Ajmal eventually escaped and returned to the United States in January 2013, prosecutors said.
Ajmal did not tell her father her whereabouts, but spoke with him in recorded phone calls, prosecutors said.
In those calls, prosecutors said Choudhry threatened to orchestrate the murder of the man, Shujat Abbas, and his family if Ajmal did not return immediately to the family home in Brooklyn.
“Now let me make it clear to you,” he was recorded saying in one call. “If you don’t come back, I will kill each and every one of them.”
Four days later, on Feb. 25, 2013, Abbas’s father, Asghar Abbas, and his sister, Madiha Abbas, were shot dead in Pakistan.
Prosecutors said eyewitnesses observed Choudhry’s brother and other relatives standing over the victims, holding guns and desecrating the bodies.
Choudrhy was arrested later that day outside his Brooklyn home. No one in Pakistan, meanwhile, was ever charged.
A federal jury in July 2014 found Choundhry guilty of conspiracy to commit murder outside the United States, transmitting threats via interstate communications, and immigration fraud.
Ying Stafford, his lawyer, said her client plans to appeal his conviction and sentence, which was imposed after Choudhry in told the judge he was “deeply sorry.”
“I feel great pain in me I cannot express out loud in words,” he said. – Reuters