A German court on Thursday sentenced two Afghan brothers to life in prison for killing their sister because they did not approve of her "modern lifestyle"
The victim, a 34-year-old mother-of-two identified as Maryam H., was found buried on a hill in Germany's southern Bavaria region several weeks after going missing from her Berlin home in July 2021.
Brothers Seen Carrying Heavy Suitcase Containing Maryam's Body in Security Footage
Train station security footage showed her brothers, Yousuf and Mahdi H., boarding a train from Berlin to Bavaria around the time Maryam H. went missing, dragging a heavy suitcase believed to have contained her body.
She was found with tape covering her hands, feet, mouth and nose, and experts told the district court in Berlin that she had been choked to death before her throat was slit.
Announcing the verdict, presiding judge Thomas Gross said the two men, both in their 20s, had killed the woman "because she was increasingly pulling away from the controlling influence of the brothers."
"They denied her this right, this right to life," Gross declared at the verdict.
Maryam was Forbidden from Entering into a New Relationship After Divorcing Husband
Prosecutors said the brothers had objected to their sister's "partially modern lifestyle."
Maryam fled from Afghanistan to Germany in 2013 and successfully sought asylum with her then-husband, Saeed Habib H., and their two young children. But four years later their marriage fell apart and Maryam divorced her husband under German law.
German press reported that news of the divorce enraged her brothers, who began exercising controlling behaviour towards Maryam, cracking down on her freedom and forcing her to abide by strict Islamic laws such as wearing a headscarf and only going out in public when accompanied by a familial male escort. The brothers even forbid her from having a new relationship after she separated from her Afghan husband.
Maryam's ex-husband also threatened her with death, leading to a restraining order being taken out on him. Maryam's kids, now aged 15 and 11, are living with their father following their mother's death.
Defence Claimed Yousuf Accidentally Killed Maryam
During the trial, defence lawyers argued that Yousuf had accidentally killed his sister during an argument, and that Mahdi H. should walk free. But the claims were rejected by the court and both brothers were found guilty after 42 days of negotiations and the questioning of 52 witnesses.
Despite overwhelming evidence which led to the brothers' murder conviction, Habib refused to testify against them during the trial.