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Arizona "honor killing" trial set to start

By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters) - An Iraqi immigrant is due to begin trial on Monday to face charges he murdered his daughter by running her over with a Jeep because he believed she was too Westernized.

Opening arguments are scheduled to begin in Maricopa County Superior Court in the case of Faleh Hassan Almaleki, accused of what prosecutors say was an October 2009 "honor killing" over his daughter's behavior.

Police say he crashed his Jeep Laredo into his 20 year-old daughter, Noor Almaleki, and her boyfriend's mother, as the two walked across a parking lot in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria. The daughter died two weeks later; the mother recovered.

The 50-year-old Almaleki faces life in prison if convicted by the 12-member jury.

He is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and two counts of hit and run.

A spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined comment on Friday. Jeff Kirchler, Almaleki's public defender, did not respond to a message left with his office.

Almaleki told detectives and witnesses that he was angry at his daughter because she was "too Westernized," and he felt she was defying Iraqi and Muslim values, said Jay Davies, a spokesman for the Peoria Police Department.

The daughter had shunned an arranged marriage, and was living with her boyfriend and his mother, police said.

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.

Following his daughter's death, Almaleki fled to Mexico and later to London, where he was taken into custody upon his arrival. He is being held on $5 million bail.

(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Jerry Norton)

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