“Honor Killing” Trial Starts Monday in Phoenix, Arizona

Vanessa Estime

On October 20, 2009, Faleh Hassan Almaleki, an Iraqi immigrant, crashed his Jeep into his 20 year old daughter, Noor Almaleki, and a family friend as they were crossing a parking lot. What was the reason behind this? Almaleki was reported as saying that “he was angry at his daughter for becoming to Westernized and disregarding traditional Iraqi and Muslim values,” according to the Associated Press.

A few years ago, Noor Almaleki had fled an arranged marriage in Iraq and, up until the time of her death, lived with her boyfriend and his mother. After the hit and run, Faleh Hassan Almaleki fled the scene and left for Mexico and, later, London, where police captured him and sent him back to the United States. Here he was held on a $5 million bail.

While the family friend survived, Noor, after suffering considerable brain and spinal injuries, slipped into a coma. Thirteen days later, she was pronounced clinically brain dead and, just a few hours later, her family took her off of life support on November 2, 2009. Now, Faleh Almaleki will have to take responsibility for what he did that on that October afternoon.

On January 24, 2011 trial began in Phoenix where Almaleki faced charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, and two counts of hit and run. Prosecutors are calling this incident an “honor killing” which has garnered international attention since Almaleki’s arrest in 2009. These “honor killings” happen almost every day and are nothing out of the ordinary in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

An honor killing is when typically a woman or girl is targeted and killed by her own family member(s) because it is believed she brought dishonor upon her family by dressing inappropriately, preventing an arranged marriage, engaging in pre-marital sex, or even engaging in relationships that are deemed inappropriate.

Whether or not the event was reckless or intentional, the twelve member jury will have to decide. If convicted, Almaleki could face up to life in prison.