THE family of an Oldham woman who was savagely murdered by her husband after a row over burnt garlic have spoken of their shock that a top judge has ruled the killer can seek freedom in three years.
Muhammed Mudassir Ali?s attack on his 25-year-old wife, Grange School teacher Sufia Begum, was so brutal that he virtually cut off her left arm and severed her head.
One of at least six blows ? delivered with a heavy cutting tool at their home in Main Road, Westwood ? resulted in Sufia?s spinal chord being cut.
Following the murder on November 7, 1998, Ali (pictured) moved the body and fled to London before finally giving himself up to police.
The political science graduate and former field officer with the National Intelligence Service in Bangladesh was finally convicted of murder at Manchester Crown Court in August, 1999, and received a mandatory life sentence.
However, after reviewing the case at London?s Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Field has ruled Ali, now aged 40, must serve a minimum jail "tariff" of just 12 years before he can seek parole.
Taking into account time spent on remand, this means Ali can apply for his freedom in November, 2010.
The news has rocked Sufia?s family who, nine years on, are still struggling to come to terms with the death of a popular Oldham girl who they describe as "a shy and timid woman".
Sufia?s sister Rowshanra Begum, 35, of Main Road, said this week: "Things have not been the same. It?s hard for us to deal with so we try not to think about it or talk about it. It has hurt the family so much.
"My father has been very ill because of what happened. He had a stroke, his diabetes is bad and he cannot speak.
"We welcomed that man into the family, into our homes. What kind of person could do that? To kill someone. He didn?t seem like the sort of person who could murder, but it must have been inside him all along.
"Sufia was a wonderful person. She had a lovely nature and was loved by everyone, especially at Grange School where she was a teacher.
"He should not be allowed out of prison. Three years from now is too soon."
In setting the tariff, the judge said he had taken into account Ali?s "excellent progress" in prison, as well as the depression Ali was suffering at the time of the murder as a result of claims of his "unhappy, unconsummated, arranged marriage" and the "profound remorse" he had expressed since.
Ali has always alleged that his wife and her family had carried out a campaign of belittlement against him, including assaults, criticism of his appearance and the removal of his passport. The family have denied this.
The jury at Ali?s trial also rejected his defence of provocation and diminished responsibility, disbelieving his own accounts of psychiatric symptoms.
One thing that is clear is that the arranged marriage that took place in 1995 in Bangladesh, and resulted in Ali coming to England in 1997 to work in a fish processing factory, was not happy.
On the day of her death Sufia was alone with her husband at the family?s home after her parents went abroad for a holiday. Ali said that he finally cracked after his wife criticised him for mistakenly burning garlic in the kitchen.
Sufia was found in a pool of blood on the dining room floor by her younger brother when he returned home and Ali had gone.