A Victorian woman has appeared in court accused of forcefully marrying off her daughter to the West Australian stranger who later murdered the young bride.
If the matter is sent to trial and the woman is convicted, she would become the first person in Australia to be successfully prosecuted over their alleged role in orchestrating a forced marriage.
Sakina Muhammad Jan, 45, appeared at Shepparton Magistrates Court via video link on Wednesday charged with one count of causing a person to enter a forced marriage.
Police claim Ms Jan coerced her 21-year-old daughter Ruqia Haidari to marry 25-year-old West Australian Uber driver and abattoir worker Mohammad Ali Halimi in exchange for a $15,000 dowry in November 2019.
The hearing was dominated by the testimony of Shukria Muqadas, a family friend of Ms Jan responsible for the pair’s matchmaking, who had to be reminded on multiple occasions to directly answer the questions from defence lawyer Shaun Ginsbourg.
Ms Muqadas, who regarded Ms Haidari as a younger sister, told the court she had arranged the engagement at the request of Halimi’s sister, who lived in Pakistan and was a close friend of hers before moving to Australia.
The court heard Ms Haidari, who was studying year 12 at the time, had met Halimi alone only for about half an hour before her family was asked to decide on the pair’s engagement.
The next time she met her husband was at their nikah, a traditional Afghan religious ceremony to confirm their marriage, two weeks after Halimi’s first visit.
Ms Muqadas claims Ms Haidari had previously told her Halimi seemed “a good man”, but she wanted to graduate before getting married.