A FORMER postmistress who torched her family’s home, killing her brother, has been convicted of culpable homicide.
Shafquat Saleem was involved in the fire at the flat in Wester Hailes in June 2001.
Her 18-year-old brother, Imran, along with other relatives – including her mother and father – were inside as the blaze ripped through the property.
Saleem stood trial at the High Court in Glasgow – more than 11 years after her brother’s tragic death. The 38-year-old was only detained last year after returning to the UK. Saleem had previously lived in Ercan in northern Cyprus.
She had denied taking part in the fire, incriminating her sister, Rafath Saleem, and a man named Aftab Ismail Khan.
Saleem had been accused of murder, but the jury found her guilty of the reduced charge of culpable homicide.
The killer burst into tears as she was led handcuffed to the cells after being remanded in custody pending sentencing.
The fire occurred on June 14, 2001 at the family home in Barn Park, Edinburgh. The accused’s parents, Mohammed and Safia, brother Imran, sister Mussart, an uncle and young child were living there at the time.
Mussart Saleem, 36, told jurors: “I heard a bang, opened the door and could hear the noise of the fire.
“My brother said that he was going to phone the fire brigade.
“My mum and dad came rushing to my room because there was a balcony and we thought we could jump down. The fire got too strong and my brother could not get out.”
Prosecutor Lesley Shand QC asked: “What was the last you heard of your brother?”
Miss Saleem sobbed: “Just before I jumped, I heard him screaming as he tried to get out his room – but he could not.”
Firefighters arrived on the scene, but Imran later died due to smoke and soot inhalation. The court heard how prior to his death he had been planning to study law at university.
The family had been staying in Belmont Gardens in Murrayfield before moving to Wester Hailes. Mussart Saleem was paying the mortgage, but it was oldest sister Rafath and brother Tanveer who were named as the owners.
Arrest warrants had originally been issued in 2002 for Shafquat Saleem, her sister, Rafath, and brother Tanveer.
The accused was arrested at Edinburgh Airport in April last year after returning to the UK.
Saleem stood trial charged with acting with others or another in pouring an accelerant through a letterbox at the flat and setting it alight. Saleem was also found guilty of embezzling money from the post office where she worked in Stockbridge, and of cutting her hair to change her appearance around the time of the fire and leaving the country in a bid to avoid prosecution.
Her QC, Ian Duguid, said a jail term was “inevitable”.
Judge Lord Stewart deferred sentencing until January 23 at the High Court in Aberdeen.