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 UK: Body in suitcase could be 'Banaz Mahmod'

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UK: Body in suitcase could be 'Banaz Mahmod' 2.5.2006
By Adam Aspinall

London, A body in a suitcase found buried in a Birmingham garden is believed to be that of a pretty 20 year-old woman feared murdered in a socalled 'honour killing'.

Kurdish-born Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha disappeared in January and detectives suspect she was killed after an arranged marriage went wrong.

Police swooped on a derelict house in Alexandra Road, Handsworth, on Friday.

With the help of West Midlands Fire Service, they cordoned off a rear garden and dug down 5ft to reach the suitcase - where they discovered the body inside.

Miss Agha, from Mitcham, south London, vanished on January 23.

Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police feared she had been murdered because she had not withdrawn any money from her bank, or taken a change of clothing or passport.

Yesterday, as cops continued a forensic search of the Birmingham house and garden, neighbours spoke of their shock at the gruesome killing.

Steve Abiola, 39, said the house where the body was found had been vacant for years.

"I've lived here since 1992 and the house has been derelict since then, apart from squatters sleeping in it," he said. "But it's only in the last 18 to 24 months that the council has boarded the place up.

"The police haven't told us very much but I saw men dressed all in white outside the house."

Another neighbour, who wished not to be named, spoke of her horror at the discovery.

"It's difficult to believe that something like that can happen around here," she said.

"How they managed to bury a suitcase there, I don't know. All the gardens are so close together.

"You can hear through each other's walls because they are paper-thin. Somebody must have seen, or heard, something."

Police believe the disappearance of Miss Agha may be linked to a failed arranged marriage.

One line of inquiry is that she may have been murdered in an 'honour killing'.
Searches for Miss Agha's body had previously been made at addresses in London, Birmingham and Sheffield.

Last night, uniformed police officers stood guard over the boarded terrace house, and a post mortem examination was being carried out on the body.

Police were keeping tight-lipped but a Metropolitan force spokeswoman said: "Detectives investigating the disappearance of a 20 year-old woman have recovered a suitcase containing a body from an address in Birmingham.

"The body is believed to be that of Banaz Mahmod Babakir Agha, 20, who was last seen on Monday January 23 in Cricket Green, Mitcham."

A 29 year-old man has been charged with murder in connection with this inquiry.

Several other people have also been arrested during the investigation and bailed pending further inquiries.

Two of those suspects were rearrested yesterday and are now in custody at London police stations.

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