Reuters reports that a Brooklyn cab driver named Mohammad Ajmal Choudhry has been sentenced to life in prison for arranging two “honor killings” in Pakistan. Given that Choudhry is 62-years-old, he is unlikely to see the outside of a prison again.
U.S. District Judge William Kuntz was unsparing in his description of Choudhry: “You were an egomaniacal force who revealed yourself to be self-absorbed and merciless in your pursuit of evil.”
NBC News says defense attorneys pleaded for a far more lenient sentence of home confinement given Choudhry’s poor health, claims of remorse, and supposedly “upstanding life” apart from the honor killings, but the judge was having none of it.
Choudhry forced his daughter Amina Ajmal into an arranged marriage in Pakistan, where she was held captive by relatives for over three years. She eventually escaped with the assistance of a man she met at her sister’s wedding and with whom she became romantically involved, returning to the United States in 2013.
She wisely avoided contact with her father after returning to the U.S. but chose to communicate with him by telephone. These recorded phone conversations became important evidence at trial. According to prosecutors, Choudhry threatened to kill “each and every one” of the family members of Ajmal’s boyfriend if she didn’t return to Pakistan and submit to her arranged marriage.
“My honor is at stake,” Choudhry told his daughter. “Getting humiliated and living is not a life.”
He swiftly made good on that threat, arranging the murder of the boyfriend’s father and 21-year-old sister in Pakistan. The New York Post says he was actually “calling the shots from the driver’s seat of his yellow cab.”
It took a while for Choudhry’s hit squad to corner their victims; according to NBC, prosecutors said the targeted family dodged at least one hail of gunfire and took to “sleeping in a storeroom in the hopes that containers of wheat would shield them from bullets during an attack in the dead of night.” Eventually the family patriarch and his daughter were lured out of their village on a motorcycle and gunned down by Chodhry’s brother and other relatives, who also desecrated the bodies, according to Reuters.
These murders had the intended effect on Amina, who “unhappily ended up marrying the man her father chose, but they are no longer together,” according to the New York Daily News. To date, no one has been prosecuted for the killings in Pakistan.