Pregnant Pakistani woman killed by in-laws in Britain

London, April 25 (IANS) A 21-year-old Pakistani woman, who was pregnant, was allegedly smothered to death by her husband and his parents, who later claimed she may have been killed by an evil spirit, a British court has heard.

Nalia Mumtaz was born in Pakistan and entered into an arranged marriage with her husband, then a student at Wolverhampton University, in August 2007. She came to Britain for the first time in May 2008 and moved into his parents' three-bedroom home in Birmingham, the Daily Mail reported.

Mumtaz was pronounced dead after being rushed to hospital by paramedics who found her lying lifeless on a bed at the family home in July 2009.

Her husband Mohammed Mumtaz, 24, his father Zia Ul Haq and mother Salma Aslam, both 51, and his 24-year-old brother-in-law Hammad Hassan, have all denied charges of murder and manslaughter.

At the Birmingham Crown Court Tuesday, the prosecutor described the defendants as a "traditional Muslim family with an emphasis on religious observance".

"Was she (Mumtaz) or may she have been possessed by an evil spirit which took her life as the defendants were to suggest both at the time and after her death? Or may she have died as a result of some unknown or undetected illness?" he asked the jury.

"Or will you be sure that, as we say, she was assaulted, smothered, by these four defendants all of whom admit they were present when she died?"

The court heard Mumtaz was thrilled by the prospect of motherhood. Both she and her unborn child appeared healthy.

But her parents alleged she phoned them at their home in Jhellum district of Pakistan the day before her death and told them she was "not at peace" living with her in-laws, the court heard.

Her father-in-law later claimed that during the calls a "djinn" or evil spirit had been sent from Pakistan.

The trial continues.

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