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Iraqi jailed in Arizona for 34 years in daughter's killing

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Arizona judge on Friday sentenced an Iraqi immigrant to 34-1/2 years in jail for murder and assault charges including killing his daughter by running her down with a Jeep because she had become too Westernized.

Faleh Hassan Almaleki struck and killed his daughter Noor Almaleki, 20, in a Phoenix valley parking lot in October 2009, and also injured her boyfriend's mother Amal Khalaf, before fleeing the scene. The sentence covers both incidents.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Roland Steinle sentenced Almaleki to 16 years in prison for second degree murder and 15 years for aggravated assault, to run consecutively. He also sentenced him to a total of 3-1/2 years on two counts of hit and run. Those sentences are to run concurrently and are to be served first.

Almaleki apologized to the court for his crimes, court spokeswoman Karen Arra said.

Police said Almaleki told detectives and witnesses after the October 2009 incident that he was angry at his daughter because she was "too Westernized," defying Iraqi and Muslim values.

The daughter had shunned an arranged marriage, and was living with her boyfriend and his mother, police said. Authorities had characterized the crime as an "honor killing" to punish the daughter's behavior.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery commended Judge Steinle and the jurors for Almaleki "accountable for his brutal and shocking crime."

"Dishonor, disrespect and other cultural mores can never serve as a justification for the taking of an innocent life. Mr. Almaleki will have an appropriately long time in prison to ponder this truth," Montgomery said in a statement.

During the trial a prosecutor described how an enraged Almaleki hid in the parking lot for her and her boyfriend's mother and then "revved and raced that car right into them."

Almaleki's defense painted a picture of him as a caring father who loved his daughter even though she caused him grief, crashing the family van and moving in and out of the house repeatedly.

Following his daughter's death, Almaleki fled to Mexico and later to London, where he was taken into custody upon his arrival.

The United Nations has documented honor killings in Egypt, Iraq, Turkey and other countries, but the practice of killing a family member -- often a woman or a girl -- over perceived shame is relatively rare in the United States.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor and David Schwartz; Editing by Peter Bohan)

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