Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Murder Convictions to Stand for Shafia Trio Who Killed Four Family Members

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Murder Convictions to Stand for Shafia Trio Who Killed Four Family Members

Article excerpt

Ontario's top court rejects Shafia appeals

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TORONTO - A father, mother and son found guilty in the drowning deaths of three teenaged sisters and another woman who had apparently shamed the family lost their bid Wednesday to overturn their first-degree murder convictions.

In unanimously rejecting an appeal by the Shafia family members, Ontario's top court ruled among things that expert evidence on so-called honour killings had been properly admitted at their trial and the son was properly tried as an adult.

"Honour was a recurrent theme of discussions among the appellants after the deaths of the deceased," the Court of Appeal for Ontario said in its decision.

Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Yahya, and their son Hamed Shafia -- immigrants originally from Afghanistan -- were jointly convicted of murder in 2012.

They were arrested three weeks after the victims -- Zainab Shafia, 19, Sahar Shafia, Geeti Shafia, 13, and Rona Amir Mohammad, 58 -- were found in a submerged car at the Kingston Mills locks near Kingston, Ont. Autopsies found they had drowned.

At trial, the accused argued unsuccessfully that the deaths were accidental. Despite a lack of eyewitness testimony, the prosecution maintained the deaths were planned and deliberate, even if the exact role each accused played was unclear.

Evidence heard at trial included various statements the accused made before and after the deaths.

For example, on police-installed listening devices, Mohammad Shafia was heard making derogatory comments about his daughters for dating, and accused them of shaming the family with their behaviour. He also referred to them as "whores."

"We lost our honour," Shafia said at one point. "They betrayed us immensely. They violated us immensely. There can be no betrayal, no treachery, no violation more than this."

A key prosecution witness was Shahzrad Mojab, a professor at the University of Toronto and an expert on honour killings. …

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