The 16-year-old victim died of multiple bullet wounds after her brother shot her for reportedly fleeing her home to marry a man who was not accepted by her family, the Jordan Times daily reported.

The girl ran away from home and was missing for three days in the last week of July before being found by the police.

According to one official she was taken to the National Institute of Forensic Medicine, where she underwent a test which proved that she was still a virgin, and then released into her parents’ custody after a promise they would not harm her.

Those found guilty of such killings rarely receive sentences longer than one year, and many serve terms of one month.

But minutes after she returned to her home in an Amman suburb last week her brother shot her dead, then turned himself in, “citing family honour as the motive for killing” his sister, one official said.

According to the Jordan Times, she was the seventh victim of so-called honour crimes this year.

Tougher laws thrown out

Jordan’s newly elected parliament last week threw out a temporary law adopted by the government after the dissolution of the previous parliament two years ago, providing for the abolition of lighter punishments for such killings.

Women's rights groups have said that in practice the change made little impact, noting that the number of killings stayed constant.

Those found guilty of such killings rarely receive sentences longer than a year, and many serve terms as short as one month.

"Unlawful actions"

The loophole that honour killers usually slip through is legislation which reduces sentences for crimes committed in a "fit of rage" sparked by an "unlawful action" on the part of the victim.

According to the Jordan Times, actions such as leaving the family home for a period or uttering words such as "This is my life. I am free to do as I choose" were all judged to be unlawful acts in verdicts on honour killings issued last year.

Women's groups have claimed that the crimes often have hidden motives - men wanting to get rid of their wives to marry again, or fathers trying to hide their rape of their own daughters.

The United Nations estimates that at least 5,000 women per year are victims of honour killings, mostly in Muslim countries. Many murders are thought to go unreported.