ROME (AP) — A judge in Italy on Tuesday ordered trial for several family members of an 18-year-old Pakistani woman who disappeared last year after refusing an arranged marriage and was allegedly slain, according to authorities.
The Italian news agency ANSA said Judge Dario De Luca, at the end of a preliminary hearing, set trial on murder charges to begin in the northern town of Reggio Emilia in February 2023.
Saman Abbas, 18, had refused to be married to a cousin in Pakistan as her parents, immigrants to Italy, insisted she should. She disappeared on April 30, 2021, after telling her boyfriend in Italy that her family was talking about killing her.
For two months, some 500 Italian police officers, aided by dogs and drones, searched farm fields near the town where her parents lived, before ending the effort to find her body which Italian authorities suspected was buried in a field.
Ordered to stand trial are an uncle who was extradited from France earlier this year, two cousins, and her parents, who flew to Pakistan from Milan on May 1, 2021. The parents were seen on a video camera as they hurried to a check-in counter at Malpensa airport. They will be tried in absentia after failing to respond to appeals from Italian authorities.
A separate video showed the uncle walking with a shovel and a pitchfork in the countryside near the family's home in Novellara. Interrogated by prosecutors after his extradition, the uncle has denied any role in his niece's disappearance.
In Italy, suspected accomplices to a slaying can face murder charges.
Children of immigrants who grow up in Italy can request Italian citizenship when they turn 18, but Abbas had apparently not done that.
Growing up in northern Italy, Abbas adopted Western-style dress, abandoning the robes and scarves that her mother wore, and dating a Pakistani youth in Italy who, like her, had also adopted Italian ways.