Friday 24 November 2017

'I am happy and my conscience is clear’ - father accused of honour killings of daughters

A FATHER accused of the "honour killings" of four family members - including his three teenage daughters - was recorded on police wiretaps saying he was "happy" they were dead and that he would "do the same again", a Canadian court has heard.

Mohammad Shafia, 58, his second wife Tooba Mahommad Yahya, 41, and their son Hamed, 20, are on trial for the first-degree murder of Zainab Shafia, 19, Sahar Shafia, 17, Geeti Shafia, 13, and his first wife Rona Amir Mohammad, 50, in 2009.

A court in Ontario heard their deaths were "honour killings" committed to remove the perceived shame the women brought on their family, such as by having boyfriends.

The couple and his son were arrested after a car was discovered submerged in a canal lock near Kingston in June 2009, with the bodies of the four family members in it. A post-mortem examination indicated they died of drowning.

The Shafia family had lived in Australia, Pakistan and Dubai before moving to Ontario in 2007.

"I say to myself, 'You did well.' Would they come back to life a hundred times for you to do the same again?" Mohammad Shafia was recorded as saying to Yahya after she appeared to express some remorse about the deaths of the two younger girls a few days after they drowned.

"No, Tooba, they were treacherous," he said, the Vancouver Sun reported.

"They were treacherous. They betrayed both themselves and us. Like this woman standing on the side of the road and if you stop the car, she would go with you anywhere. ... They're gone now; shit on their graves."

He added the next day: "I am happy and my conscience is clear. ... They haven't done good and God punished them," the Montreal Gazette reported.

In other recordings, Mohammad Shafia told Yahya and Hamed to remain strong and that "there is nothing more valuable than our honour", the Gazette said.

"I am telling your mother that be like a man as you have always been. I know it hurts … don't worry at all, don't regret," he said, adding, "there is no value of life without honour".

The court heard that Mohammad Shafia married Yahya as Rona Amir Mohammad was unable to bear children. The trio lived in a polygamous relationship, The Canadian Press reported.

The court also heard the eldest daughter, Zainab, had run away from home for a few weeks and the two other girls contacted officials appealing to be removed from their home because of domestic violence.

If convicted, the trio face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

There have been 13 such killings in Canada since 2002, said Amin Muhammed, a psychiatry professor at Memorial University in Saint John's, Newfoundland.

On the morning of the deaths, a car was found underwater at the upper lock at Kingston Mills with the four bodies inside.

The accused immediately went to police to report them missing and said the family stopped at a Kingston motel late at night to rest on their way home to Montreal from a vacation in Niagara Falls.

Shafia told authorities his eldest daughter Zainab must have taken the car without his permission and crashed it into the canal, but an investigation would later reveal he told witnesses he planned to kill her.

Prosecutors said that, according to mobile phone records, Hamed appeared to scope out the Kingston area days before the family arrived.

They also say he researched bodies of water in the Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston areas in the days leading up to the deaths.

The youngest was killed for wearing revealing attire, despite having warned school officials and police of abuse in the home, prosecutor Laurie Lacelle told the court.

The trial, which started late last month, was expected to last up to three months, with dozens of witnesses scheduled to be called.

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News