A court in northern Italy convicted the parents and an uncle of an 18-year-Pakistani woman for her murder in Italy after she refused her family’s demands to marry a cousin in their homeland.

Saman Abbas’ body was dug up in November 2022 in an abandoned farmhouse near the fields where her father worked in northern Italy, a year and a half after she was last seen alive on surveillance video walking near the same fields with per parents. Italian prosecutors argued that she was was killed by her family on May 1, 2021. A few days later, her parents flew from Milan to Pakistan.

The parents, Shabbar Abbas and Nazia Shaheen, were sentenced to life in prison, while her uncle, Danish Hasnain, was handed a 14-year prison term by a court in Reggio Emilia. Two cousins were found not guilty and ordered released from jail.


Abbas, who was extradited from Pakistan in August, professed his innocence during a tearful statement to the court before deliberations. His wife, Shaheen, was tried in absentia and is believed to be in Pakistan.

The trial was the most high-profile of several criminal investigations in Italy in recent years dealing with the slaying or mistreatment of immigrant women or girls who rebelled against family insistence that they marry someone chosen for them.

An autopsy revealed the young woman had a broken neck bone, possibly caused by strangulation. She had emigrated as a teenager from Pakistan to a farm town, Novellara, in Italy’s northern region of Emilia-Romagna.

She quickly embraced Western ways, including shedding her headscarf and dating a young man of her choice. In one social media post, she and her Pakistani boyfriend were shown kissing on a street in the regional capital, Bologna.

According to Italian investigators, that kiss enraged Abbas’ parents, who wanted her to marry a cousin in Pakistan.

Abbas had reportedly told her boyfriend that she feared for her life, because of her refusal to marry an older man in her homeland.