LONDON - A Kurdish father has been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murdering his 15-year-old daughter because she fell in love with a follower of a different branch of Islam.
A London judge gave Mehmet Goren, 49, a minimum 22-year prison sentence Thursday for his so-called "honour killing" of daughter Tulay, who disappeared a decade ago and was never found. He also was convicted of attacking her boyfriend with an axe.
Prosecutor Damaris Lakin said the fish-and-chip server killed his daughter for having a relationship with a Sunni Muslim. The Gorens adhered to the Alevi branch of the faith, which is linked to the rival Shiite sect of Islam.
"He killed his own daughter because he believed that she had shamed him," Lakin told the court. "His conviction today shows that the true shame was, and always will be, his to bear."
Police believe Tulay was killed on Jan. 7, 1999, at her family home while she was alone with her father. Her boyfriend Halil Unal reported her disappearance two weeks later, around the time that Mehmet Goren assaulted him with an axe.
Police have never established how Tulay was killed, but say she has been missing sufficiently long to be declared dead.
Evidence that emerged years after Tulay's disappearance led police in 2008 to arrest Mehmet Goren and his two brothers. All three were charged with murder, but the two brothers were acquitted Thursday.
Tulay was still in school when she began a relationship with the 30-year-old Unal, who like her had a Kurdish background from Turkey.
A police investigator, John Macdonald, quoted a court statement written by Tulay's sister Nuray that read: "Tulay was caught in the middle of two clashing worlds. ... So much of our tradition and custom stood in the way of what Tulay ultimately wanted."
The father has rejected family requests to identify where Tulay's body is located.
One of his acquitted brothers later denied that there had been an honour killing at all. He said he believed that Tulay was still alive.
"There is no such thing in our culture," Cuma Goren told Britain's Channel 4 News.
Britain has seen dozens of women killed by their Muslim relatives in the past decade for offences that they believe have brought shame on the family. In 2007, a court convicted a Kurdish father who planned and ordered his daughter's death because she fell in love with a man who did not come from their Iraqi village.