ROME (AP) — Forensic experts have determined that a body found weeks ago in a shallow grave in northern Italy is that of a 18-year-old woman who authorities suspect was slain by Pakistani relatives for refusing an arranged marriage, a lawyer said on Wednesday.
Barbara Iannuccelli, a lawyer representing an association for families of missing persons, said the corpse was identified through a dental anomaly and that a neck bone had been broken, the Italian news agency ANSA said.
Saman Abbas was last seen in April 2021 by neighbors near home in the farm town of Novellara, near the city of Reggio Emilia. A few days later, a Milan airport video showed her parents hurrying to catch a flight to Pakistan.
Her father, Shabbir Abbas, was arrested in November in his village in Pakistan, according to Pakistani police. The man was being sought by Italian police on a charge of killing his daughter.
Shortly before her disappearance, the woman had told her boyfriend, also of Pakistani origin and who lives in Italy, that her parents wanted to marry her off to an older man in their homeland but that she was refusing. After going to Italian authorities, she stayed briefly in a shelter and then went home after her family reportedly sent her text messages pleading with her to return.
Italy has already arrested an uncle of the woman following his extradition from France.
The organization Penelope that Iannuccelli represents, has filed legal action as a civil party to be part of any future trial for the slaying.
She said it was yet unclear if the broken bone indicated that the woman had been strangled or if the break occurred after death.
Arranged marriages are common among conservatives in Pakistan, where hundreds of women are murdered every year by husbands or relatives as punishment for alleged adultery or other sexual behavior they disapprove of.