Two more men charged in murder of Lebanese-born student Aya Hachem

LONDON: Another two men have been charged in connection with the murder of Lebanese-born law student Aya Hachem, who was gunned down during a drive-by shooting in England almost two years ago.

Eight people were jailed last year for a total of more than 200 years for their parts in the murder of the 19-year-old. She was shot on May 17, 2020, as she walked to a supermarket to buy food for her family to break their Ramadan fast. The bullet entered her left shoulder and passed through her body. She died later in hospital.

Tire company boss Feroz Suleman, 40, had arranged the execution of a rival businessman, Pachah Khan, 31, the owner of a car wash, but the gunman he hired instead shot dead Hachem, an innocent passer-by.

Suleman was sentenced to a minimum of 34 years in prison before parole can be considered. The gunman, Zamir Raja, 33, who missed his first shot before hitting Hachem with the second, was also jailed for a minimum of 34 years.

His driver, Anthony Ennis, 31, must serve at least 33 years. Accomplices Ayaz Hussain, 36, Abubakr Satia, 32, Uthman Satia, 29, and Kashif Manzoor, 26, were sentenced to minimum prison terms of 32 years, 28 years, 28 years and 27 years, respectively.

After a review of the evidence by Lancashire Police, Suhayl Suleman, 37, and Lewis Otway, 41, have now been charged with the murder of Hachem and the attempted murder of Khan.

Both men were interviewed in the early stages of the initial investigation but released without charge. Lancashire Police said both men are due to appear at a local court on Friday.

Hachem’s family fled violence in their native Lebanon when she was a child and settled in Blackburn, in the north of England, where she dreamed of becoming a solicitor.

After her death her father, Ismail, said his dreams had been destroyed by his daughter’s murder.

“I thought I would be safe here … in this small town. No big problems,” he told the BBC at the time. “All my dreams (were) Aya. Everything was Aya.

“She had big dreams, she helped many people. Anywhere, everybody liked Aya. But we lost Aya. My family lost Aya.”