The sister of a female journalist who was allegedly killed along with her child by her husband on Sunday announced that her family would be suing a local media organization after reports appeared to be politicizing her death, according to Kurdistan 24.
Lana Mohammed, a former TV presenter and journalist, was found dead on Wednesday, along with her husband, Amanj Babani, and their three-year-old child, Hano, in a car around the outskirts of the Kurdistan Region city of Sulaimani. Babani was also an anchor working with NRT, a news station affiliated with local opposition party New Generation Movement (NGM).
A channel that is vocal in its broadcasting of criticisms against local authorities and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for their alleged crackdown on free press, NRT initially reported that Babani, Mohammed and Hano had been “assassinated” by unidentified gunmen. The report initially only mentioned the name of Babani as he had still been a member of NRT, only later mentioning Mohammed and their child.
Shortly following the incident, however, reports from other outlets cited police sources as saying that preliminary investigations had shown Babani had shot his wife and three-year-old child, eventually taking his own life.
An official statement from police authorities a day later seemed to confirm this claim, saying that forensic analysis of Babani’s body had shown he had committed suicide. The police also found a firearm inside the vehicle. It cited witness testimonies to back observations that shots had been fired from inside the car.
On Friday, Mohammed’s family released a public statement saying that the incident had been a case of violence against women and condemned media outlets they saw were attempting to politicize the alleged killing of Mohammed and her child at the hand of her husband.
“The issue of our beloved daughter was a family dispute, not a political issue related to freedom of the press.” The statement further criticized attempts to “sway public opinion” by exploiting a case of violence against women and children.
The family explained that Mohammed had been unhappy with her marriage and was considering getting a divorce. This, in a region that often has stringent and conservative family values, often leads to disputes, with families on both sides getting involved in attempts to resolve them. Though uncommon, it sometimes results in the use of violence by male relatives.
On Sunday, Mohammed’s family and former colleagues held a funeral procession for her and her son in Sulaimani. Lana’s sister read another statement from the family, broadcast on Kurdsat, claiming again that Babani had “killed my dear sister and their child.”
She affirmed that the family would be suing NRT, which she alleged had “turned a killer into a hero,” a reference to Babani.