They murdered their sister and then took the body by train to Bavaria in a suitcase on wheels. Around a year and a half later, the Berlin Regional Court sentenced the two brothers of the 34-year-old Afghan to life imprisonment. It found the two 27 and 24-year-old men guilty of murder together on Thursday.

The judges are convinced that they murdered their sister in July 2021 because the mother of two wanted to lead her life on her own terms. “They denied her this right, this right to life,” said presiding judge Thomas Groß at the verdict.

After 42 days of negotiations and the questioning of 52 witnesses, the court was convinced that the 34-year-old had to die because her life did not correspond to the Afghan family’s moral standards. The brothers were guided by “archaic considerations”.

On July 13, 2021, they trapped and killed the 34-year-old in Berlin. They would then have brought their bodies to Bavaria in a trolley case by ICE. Footage from surveillance cameras showed two men in the busy Berlin-Südkreuz train station with a trolley case. The journey went to Bavaria, where the older brother lived at the time. About three weeks later, investigators found the woman’s body in a hole in the ground near Holzkirchen, almost 30 kilometers from Donauwörth.

With its verdict, the court followed the request of public prosecutor Antonia Ernst. The brothers “wanted to punish the woman and remove her as a family member,” said Ernst in her plea. The Afghan mother wanted to live independently of her brothers in a new relationship – “a prison that she wanted to escape from”. The defendants “regarded the woman as something inferior because of her gender,” said Ernst.

The older brother had confessed to killing his sister during the trial, but described a kind of accident in a dispute. According to the 27-year-old, his brother was not involved. His lawyers asked for a guilty verdict of assault and death and a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The defense attorneys for the younger defendant pleaded for acquittal.

The case made headlines and triggered a debate about the term “honor killing” and the failed integration of refugees. The woman and the brothers came to Germany from Afghanistan a few years ago. She was divorced from her Afghan husband.