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New husband held in burning of teen bride

October 9, 2002


They'd met on the Internet a couple of months ago, police said, and were married only 10 days when the 18-year-old bride showed up at her family's house in Rochester Hills and shared a terrible secret.

Her chest and back were covered with at least 20 cigarette burns -- inflicted, she later told police, by her new husband.

And that wasn't the worst of it, detectives said. According to charging documents, Navid Zafar, 23, also sexually assaulted his wife Oct. 3, using a lighted cigarette and a burning candle.

Zafar was arraigned Tuesday on 11 charges, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct, assault with intent to do great bodily harm and domestic violence. He is in the Oakland County Jail in lieu of $950,000 cash bond.

Zafar's attorney, John Kanaras, told Judge Nancy Tolwin Carniak of 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills that his client didn't hurt his wife. He said Zafar believes she inflicted the injuries on herself, and that she's been undergoing therapy for past episodes of self-mutilation.

"My client denies all this vehemently," Kanaras said.

What's really going on, he said, is a disagreement about religion. Kanaras said the bride, whose family are Sikhs, converted to Islam after she met Zafar.

"By marrying the defendant, she caused a big scandal in her family because she became a Muslim," Kanaras said.

Police disagree. They say the case came to light Sunday when Zafar took his wife to her family's house to pick up her passport.

Zafar, a resident alien originally from Pakistan, planned to take his wife with him to his native country, said Lt. Mike Johnson of the Oakland County Sheriff's Department.

"Probably the smartest thing she ever did was talk to her parents," Johnson said. "She very well could have ended up there for the rest of her life."

Zafar, who lives with his family in Rochester Hills, was accompanied on the visit by his father and brother, who waited outside in a van, according to Assistant Prosecutor Tricia Rohn. Zafar forced his wife to carry a tape recorder with her when she went into the house, Rohn said.

Once inside, Johnson said, the wife told her father her husband had been hurting her and showed him some of her injuries. Her father called the Sheriff's Department.

Zafar choked his wife, cut her, and burned her with hot candle wax, Rohn said. He also threatened to kill her, Rohn said, and telephoned her more than 20 times since he's been jailed.