Share this article

print logo

CUSTODY OF SLAIN GIRL'S BODY RAISES QUESTIONS FOR OFFICIALS

Custody battles are usually fought when a child is alive, but the question of who will bury 5-year-old Farah Jaban Khan remains open, now that her father and stepmother have been charged with her murder.

Since December when the first evidence of the girl's murder came to light with the discovery of her battered and severed limbs inside a garbage bag on a Toronto beach, Torontonians have been transfixed by the horrific crime and the victim.

When the girl's parents, Muhammad Arsal Khan, 36, and his 45-year-old wife, Kaneez Fatima were arrested and charged on Jan. 19, the question arose: Who will bury her?

"If there are no other next of kin, or family members who have a legal right to make that decision, then the legal right may be back in the hands of Mr. Khan," said Detective Rolf Prisor, lead investigator on the case.

Even if others are given guardianship of the body, Khan and his wife can still apply to attend the funeral -- under heavy police guard, he added.

Sgt. Jim Muscat, another investigator on the case, admitted he isn't sure who has custody rights -- the girl's extended family, the biological mother who gave up the little girl in 1994, or her accused father.

The mother, Shahida Jabeen, lives in a small village in Pakistan. But when Canadian media reported she could not afford the cost of traveling to Toronto for the funeral, the city responded with an outpouring of donations.

"This is the first time I've seen any reaction like this," Prisor said.

Reports in the Toronto Star newspaper say the mother is "very grateful to the people of Canada" for their generosity."

Since Toronto media began probing into the Pakistan connection, reports have surfaced that Khan beat Jabeen when they were married and living in Pakistan and that his marriage to Fatima was secured so he could move to Canada, according to the Toronto-based marriage brokers who arranged it.

Khan's family members in Pakistan have denied the accusations and charged that Jabeen was an unfit mother who was never concerned for her child.

Toronto's Islamic community was especially shocked by the killing and the charges against the girl's parents.

More than 900 mourners gathered at the International Muslims Organization mosque in Rexdale, north of Toronto, to remember the slain child.

Farah represents "all the children of the world," said Sheik Abdul Razack, who led the service.

"Our children are our treasures, to be treated as such with love and care and mercy," he said. "Today we are sad, sad because as a community we have failed in our duty to protect our children."

Dr. Jim Cairns, Ontario's deputy chief coroner, said tests are needed to find the cause of the girl's death, an effort that could take another two or three weeks.

Police and prosecutors still need to establish the actual cause of death, Prisor said.

"Dismemberment alone could simply mean there was an indignity to a body after a death from natural causes. So, from a legal standpoint, it is very important that we know the cause of death," he explained.

The child's head bears the marks of a blunt force trauma and her arms show scratches and bruises typical of someone defending themselves against blows, police said.

There are no comments - be the first to comment