Pak-American TV executive stabbed wife 40 times: US court told

New York: A Pakistani-American TV executive stabbed his wife 40 times and then sawed off her head because she "dared to file for divorce", prosecutors told a New York jury in opening arguments.

Muzzammil Hassan (46), founder of a television network in US to counter negative perceptions about Muslims post 9/11 attacks, has been charged with second-degree murder for killing his estranged wife Aasiya Hassan on February 12, 2009.

Hassan used two hunting knives to kill Aasiya, whose body was found in a hallway of the TV office with severed head several feet away, Erie County District Attorney Paul Bonanno told jurors as reported by the Post Chronicle.

Aasiya was stabbed 40 times and her head was sawed off, Bonanno said, asserting that the 37-year-old woman was killed because she "had dared to file for divorce, dared to seek a better life for herself and her children."

The Pakistan-born victim was killed a week after she filed for divorce after being married for nine years.

Hassan has pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder.

Jeremy Schwartz, the defence attorney, argued that Hassan had killed his wife, but he was a battered spouse. "Hassan killed his wife, but he is not guilty of murder in the second degree," Schwartz said.

"I am not going to tell you that what happened is right," he was quoted as saying by the newspapers. "I am not going to tell you that what happened is somehow endorsed by religion or culture, and I am not going to tell you that Aasiya Hassan deserved it, but there are two sides to the story."

Aasiya threatened his client with a knife just hours before she was killed, the defence counsel said, adding that she also threatened to poison him and take the children away.

The police found the body of Aasiya in his office after the accused himself went to the police station.

Pointing out that Hassan surrendered, he said, "His actions were not of a man who was simply trying to murder a human being...they were of a man unleashing emotion from almost a decade, in a way that is almost inexplicable."