(January 29, 2012) – Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya and their son Hamed were all convicted today of first-degree murder in the deaths of four family members.
Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife, and their 21-year-old son were accused by the prosecution of “honour killings” in the death of his first wife and three daughters.
The bodies of Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, along with Rona Mohammad Amir, 50, were found dead in the family’s Nissan, submerged in the Rideau Canal on June 30, 2009.
The jury deliberated about 15 hours after they were first charged by the judge in the case, Justice Robert Maranger.
They were each handed an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
“The apparent reason behind these cold shameful murders was that four (victims) offended your twisted notion of honour,” the judge said.
Each of the three convicted Shafia family members addressed the court, denying their involvement.
Hamed said in English, “I did not drown my sisters anywhere, while Yahya said “I am not a murderer.” Her husband echoed that, with “I did not commit any murder.”
Outside the court, the Imam of Kingston’s mosque responded to the verdict.
“Like most Canadians, the trial has caused anger, shock and sadness in those following it,” Sikander Ziad Hashmi, Imam at the Islamic Society of Kingston, told media outlets. “We all have to work hard against domestic violence and honor-based violence.”
Tonight, the Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Islamic Social Services Association released the following statement on the verdict:
“We accept and respect the justice system and we believe that the indicted were given a fair trial.
Our thoughts, today, are with the victims of this heinous crime; may they rest in peace. We are also concerned for the remaining children and their future. We hope and pray that all stakeholders will come together to provide these children a safe, secure and spiritually compatible home.
Many lessons have been learned and many strategies have been put in place within the Canadian Muslim communities to address domestic violence and to establish and/or support social services and providers with the right skills, know-how and training to deal with gender based violence.
We are hopeful that Canadian Muslims and the Islamic faith will not be stigmatized, as a whole, for this crime.
These were Canadian children who seem to have fallen through the cracks and did not receive the help they needed in a timely manner”