From the Mail Online:
A pregnant wife was smothered to death by her husband, his parents and his brother-in-law who later all claimed she may have been killed by an evil spirit, a court has heard.
Nalia Mumtaz, 21, was pronounced dead at hospital after being rushed there by paramedics who found her lying lifeless and ashen faced on a bed at the family home. Her unborn child died with her.
Her husband Mohammed Mumtaz, 24, his father Zia Ul Haq and mother Salma Aslam, both 51, as well as his brother in law Hammad Hassan, 24, all deny charges of murder and manslaughter.
At Birmingham Crown Court today, prosecutor Christopher Hotten said the cultural context in which Mrs Mumtaz met her death on July 8, 2009 was of importance, as were the religious beliefs of the defendants, described as a ‘traditional Muslim family with an emphasis on religious observance’.
He asked the jury: ‘Was she 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?
'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?’
Mrs Mumtaz was born in Pakistan and willingly 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 the following May after obtaining a visa and moved into his parents’ modern, three bedroom detached home in Birmingham.
Mr Hotten said she was attractive, bright and was ‘thrilled’ by the prospect of motherhood after falling pregnant in February 2009.
During her pregnancy, she was regularly seen by a GP and various midwives – the last time two days before her death - and both she and her unborn child appeared healthy.
But her parents said she phoned them at their home in the Jhellum district of Pakistan the day before her death and told them she was ‘not at peace’ living with her in-laws and was upset, Mr Hotten said.
The jury was also told that numerous telephone calls were made to Mrs Mumtaz's relatives in Pakistan, the emergency services and other individuals in the hours before she was taken to hospital.
During the calls it is alleged that Ul Haq claimed that a ‘djinn’ - or evil spirit - had been sent from Pakistan, while a woman at the house was allegedly heard to say ‘don’t call an ambulance yet - we will cure her ourselves.’
Part-way through Mr Hotten’s opening speech, Mumtaz collapsed in the dock in a clearly distressed state and the jury was sent home until tomorrow.
The case continues.