June 16, 2014

SCOTLAND: Woman Burnt To Death By Muslim Ex-Husband For Being Too Westernised; He Poured Petrol Over Her Head And Body And Set Her On Fire. Honor Killing Allowed Per Islamic Sharia Law.

The Daily Mail, UK
written by Shona Sibary and Fiona McWhirter
Sunday June 8, 2014

Just an hour before she died in agony from horrific burn injuries, Ahdieh Khayatzadeh’s 20-year old twin daughters, Gloria and Glara, were allowed into intensive care to say one last, heart-breaking goodbye.

But before they got to her bedside, a nurse warned them both: ‘Close your eyes. Don’t look.’

Their 46-year old mother, her only crime to have become ‘westernised’ in the eyes of her Muslim ex-husband, had suffered 95 per cent burns in a shocking attack, leaving her so unrecognisable that paramedics at the scene couldn’t tell if she was a man or a woman.

For anyone seeing a parent in this state it would be traumatic beyond belief.

For Gloria and Glara, the tragedy is harder to bear because the person responsible for killing their mother is their father, Ahmad Yazdanparast, 61.

Last Tuesday, at the High Court in Edinburgh, he was found guilty of murdering Ahdieh at her beauty salon in Stirling in October last year.

The couple, both originally from Iran, had separated in 2010 and their divorce – prompted by Ahdieh - had just come through. Unable to accept his wife no longer wanted to be married to him, Ahmad doused Ahdieh’s body in petrol and set her alight.

He would claim afterwards it was because in his home country the man is ‘superior to the woman and has authority over her’, but his wife - who had amassed a £700,000 fortune - had become more successful than him.

Today, in an interview with The Scottish Mail on Sunday, the couple’s devastated daughters talk for the first time about their father’s betrayal and his cold-blooded murder of the woman who was the ‘heart of their family’.

An emotional Gloria said: ‘I can only liken it to the worst nightmare you can’t wake up from. Every morning I still open my eyes and think: “Did that actually happen?”

‘How could he have done this to her? It’s just not human.’

According to both girls, their mother had been deeply unhappy in the marriage for years before finally plucking up the courage to leave her husband and start a life on her own with her three children, Gloria, Glara and their 12-year-old brother, Reza.

Glara added: ‘Dad had brought Mum over to Scotland from Iran when she was in her early twenties. She had no family here and couldn’t speak a word of English. He was mentally abusive to her from the start. He was never kind or showed her understanding.

‘She felt trapped, lonely and far from home. But she was so strong and determined to make things work. When we were born she went to college and did a hairdressing and beauty course and got diplomas in both of them. Later, she did a teaching degree – all the while looking after two small children and learning English. She wanted to make her life successful and to have a happy family. The problem was Dad.’

By the girls’ own admission, Ahmad, who owned a takeaway, was a distant, uncaring father.

‘He didn’t even know when our birthdays were or what year at school we were in,’ Gloria recalls. ‘Mum did absolutely everything.

She was the heart in our home. Dad would sit at the dinner table without saying a word and, when he did, it was to pick a fight. He never took us anywhere or played with us like our friends’ fathers did with them.’

Glara remembers one Christmas when they were 10 years old. ‘We’d bought him a present but, as usual, he had nothing for us so he just took some money out of his pocket and handed it over. That’s what he was like. He never made much effort with us at all.’

Gloria added: ‘As we grew older we noticed the awful atmosphere in the house. By now, Mum had set up her salon business and was lecturing in beauty at Glasgow University.

‘She was earning her own money and giving us as many opportunities as she could. Looking back, I can see now how determined she was that we would, one day, be able to stand on our own two feet as independent women. We did tennis, art, everything. She couldn’t have done more for us.’

Glara said: ‘Mum had become financially independent and Dad was so unpleasant all the time that Gloria and I just kept our distance from him. He had lost all our respect and he knew it.’

Matters finally came to a head in August 2010 when a family argument got out of hand and Ahmad was arrested for trying to attack his wife. He moved out of the family home and Ahdieh started divorce proceedings.

‘It was a relief when he finally left,’ Gloria says. ‘For years there had been this huge cloud over our house and now it was gone.’

But nobody could have predicted what was to come. For the next three years, Ahmad opposed the divorce proceedings at every turn, becoming increasingly more bitter and abusive. He even, one Christmas Day, left a message on the family’s answering machine threatening to kill his wife.

‘Of course we didn’t believe him,’ says Glara. ‘Who could ever, in a million years, imagine their father doing that? We just thought he was being nasty and difficult as usual and got on with lives.’
But on 12 October last year Ahmad finally snapped.

‘It was all about money,’ remembers Gloria. ‘He had just found out Mum was getting half of everything in the divorce settlement and that’s what triggered him. I remember, a few days before the attack, he was sitting in a friend’s car outside Mum’s salon going through paperwork and looking really wound up.

‘He felt Mum had won.’

Certainly, evidence at the crime scene gave some clue as to what might have been going on in Ahmad’s mind when he poured petrol over Ahdieh’s head and body and set fire to her. During the attack he scattered cards, bearing hand-written messages in English and Farsi.

On one card he wrote: ‘Enough is enough’, while another proclaimed: ‘If she was in Iran, she was not doing this to me and my children. Game is over.’

Glara recalls: ‘We were both home studying when we got a call from a friend to say there was a fire at Dad’s takeaway. I don’t know why, but I sensed immediately that he’d done something awful.’

Knowing that their mother’s salon, Venus Hair and Beauty, was in the basement next door to the takeaway, Glara rushed to the scene only to find the area cordoned off and police cars everywhere.

She said: ‘My legs were like jelly and I couldn’t stop shaking. Mum and Dad had already been taken to the hospital by
ambulance and all the police could tell me was that there had been a small fire.’

She added: ‘At the police station, they refused to tell us anything – they were shielding us, I suppose. Even though we had been told it was a small fire, I had a horrible feeling something more sinister had happened.

‘In the end I insisted on calling the hospital and was put through to a doctor who told me he couldn’t tell me over the phone what had happened.’

It was only after they were driven to Forth Valley Royal Hospital in a police car to meet with the doctor that the full horror emerged and the girls were told their mother’s injuries were so bad she couldn’t survive.

Glara said: ‘Nobody actually ever said Dad had done it. We just knew. The shock is indescribable. It was so hard to take in. It didn’t feel real. We didn’t go to see Dad in the burns unit. If I’m honest, I was hoping he would die.’

She added: ‘He got out of the salon with six percent burns, but what he did to Mum was so appalling we were warned to not look at her. The nurse advised us not to go in - she said it was something we really shouldn’t see. But we really wanted to say a last goodbye, so they advised us to keep our eyes closed. That’s what we did. We went in separately with our eyes shut. ‘It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do.’

She added: ‘I hate him all the more for that. I couldn’t even see my mother, one last time, when I was telling her I loved her. What kind of animal does that to somebody else?’

The next time the twins would see their father was in court and they admit they found his evidence sickening.

Gloria said: ‘It was weird hearing him talk because I hadn’t heard his voice for months. He only once looked us in the eye – on the first day – and after that he never so much as glanced our way.

'He has never once said sorry or admitted what he did. He just made up one ridiculous lie after another to try to save himself and even had the nerve to claim that our mother asked him to buy petrol. Mum hadn’t spoken a word to him in three years and he made out in court as if they were getting back together again.’

Yazdanparast denied murdering his ex-wife at the salon in Maxwell Place, Stirling, and lodged a special defence claiming he had acted in self-defence after she assaulted him.

Yazdanparast told jurors he was ‘a British Muslim’, that in Iran he would have authority over her but she had become ‘westernised’.

He said he had not wanted a divorce and maintained his wife threw something at him and he felt a burning sensation.

However, he had been caught on camera buying fuel from a petrol station that morning and putting a container in the car.

Judge Lady Wise said it was ‘a very serious and distressing case’ and only one punishment - life imprisonment - could be imposed.

But she must set a minimum period before the killer is eligible to seek parole and adjourned sentence until later this month for the preparation of a background report.

Glara admits she feels furious when well-meaning people comment that they’ve lost two parents.

‘We haven’t,’ she says. ‘He was never there for us. How can we have lost two parents when we only, really, ever had one?’
Seven months since the attack, the twins are still desperately trying to make sense of what happened.

They remain angry that, despite several complaints to police about their dad’s threatening behaviour towards their mother, they feel they were not taken seriously enough.

She said: ‘They take each incident as a separate thing and don’t try to foresee what’s going to happen. I knew something was going to happen, they should have known too. I’m really angry at them.’

The girls, both one year from finishing business study degrees when the attack happened, have put their final year of university on hold until they feel more ready to cope.

‘It’s not what Mum would have wanted,’ Glara says sadly. ‘She would have hated for this to destroy us - to ruin all the hopes and dreams she had for our future.

‘And we’re determined, for her, that it’s not going to. Dad might think he has taken Mum away from us, but he can’t touch the memories we have or erase the amazing things she has taught us.’

She added: ‘Gloria and I are strong minded and determined individuals just like our mother. My mum was the most kind hearted and beautiful lady inside and out and we feel so honoured to have had such an inspirational lady in our lives.

‘There isn’t a second that goes by where she is not on our mind. We are so, so proud to call her our mother and miss her like no words can explain.’

Gloria agrees: ‘She had such strength of spirit and incredible kindness and that will live on in our hearts forever.’

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